David Lee is the latest chief financial officer for Zynga, the social games producer. Lee comes with an impressive set of skills, albeit in such diverse industries as retail and food processing. Could be he hopes to help Zynga chew up the competition.
Best Buy lost their senior vice president of finance when Lee bounced over to Zynga. He left Del Monte Foods after eight years when he joined Best Buy in 2012 for a short tenure. At Zynga, Lee replaces Mark Vranesh who had been with Zynga for six years. The two will work in tandem for a one month get acquainted period before Vranesh’s resignation is final.
Zynga has been led by a former Microsoft executive, Don Mattrick, for less than one year, but Mattrick has been successful in cutting costs even though their fourth quarter still recorded a $25.2 million loss. Part of the cost cutting included employee layoffs. Adding to the challenge Vranesh faces is declining sales – quoted as being down 43 percent. First quarter 2014 results are due the end of this month.
The 52 week range for the stock, NASDAQ:ZNGA, reflects the company’s promise and disappoints as it waivers between $2.50 – $5.89, currently at $4.03. The release of FarmVille 2: Country Escape launched recently in Canada and Australia on the iPhone is a positive move according to some analysts, but the ticker didn’t move up before close today.
Where the company will go from here is a question where Lee may have some influence. He has built on his Harvard University degree becoming an instrumental strategist. Lee was hired to turnaround Best Buy as part of the Renew Blue transformation. At Del Monte Foods, he was charge of corporate strategy, where he led divestiture of the Starkist Tuna business and the take-private sale of Del Monte Foods to private equity investors. Before that, Lee was one the founding partners in the first corporate VC firm sponsored by PG&E to cultivate, fund, and manage high tech ventures in the emerging energy, software/IT, and telecom industries.
Zynga CEO Mattrick said: “David has a deep understanding of business management and a sharp financial acumen that will be invaluable to Zynga’s long term growth and success.” With Mr. Lee’s several strengths, it is difficult to envision the path he plans for Zynga. But it can’t be a one man show if he is to fit into Zynga’s philosophy. Human Resources states in their employment ad: ”Taking creative risks can be scary. That’s why we work in multidisciplinary teams. Lots of collaboration = lots of support.”