The rise and fall of Zynga is emerging as one of the great cautionary tales of the internet industry. Rapid growth from its Facebook social games, an IPO at a valuation of $7bn in December 2011, and then two years of hard questions about whether the company’s core business was too dependent on Facebook, and whether its strategic playbook would bring similar success on mobile. Answers: Yes, and Not Yet. Now Zynga’s CEO Mark Pincus has stepped aside, poaching games industry veteran Don Mattrick from Microsoft’s Xbox team to replace him. “I’ve always said to Bing and our Board that if I could find someone who could do a better job as our CEO I’d do all I could to recruit and bring that person in. I’m confident that Don is that leader,” wrote Pincus in a note to employees – ‘Bing’ being Bing Gordon, one of Zynga’s key investors and board members. Pincus will continue as chairman and chief product officer, while Mattrick seeks a mobile-led resurgence for Zynga. Digital music services like Spotify mulling their own paths to and beyond IPO can learn plenty from Zynga’s experiences.

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