You Don’t Have to be a Shareholder to Gamble on Zynga Anymore

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Perhaps Zynga (ZNGA) should begin developing a game that allows users to guess which of their executives will leave next. If this was coupled with a game that also allowed you to guess when the next time that its stock would trade for consecutive days at over $3.00, it would be considerably more entertaining than Farmville.

The latest to leave, or be thrown from this sinking ship, is Jeff Karp, Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA)’s chief marketing and revenue officer, whom the company confirmed this week had resigned on September 10th. Karp brings the number of managers to leave Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) to eight since early August.

Following legislation that will ease regulations on online gambling, both in the US and abroad, Zynga has wisely (two words that rarely collide in the same sentence) replaced Mr. Karp with former 888 senior vice president of corporate and regulated markets, Maytal Olsha.

Given that online gambling is believed to be worth over 30 billion dollars next year, this is a smart move.

Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) executive Barry Cottle commented: “Maytal Olsha is a fantastic addition to Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA). She joins our team with a deep understanding and direct experience in getting online gaming product offerings off the ground and directly into the hands of players. She is a strong advocate for integrating social features into real money offerings in order to make them more appealing and interactive for casual audiences. Maytal’s arrival is a win for Zynga and our player network.”

I’m not sure about the last sentence in this statement. A win for “our player network?” I doubt it, but frankly, I would sooner spend $100 playing poker or even blackjack or real-money slots than purchase 33 shares of Zynga.

Both are unwise, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. There is little question that legal real-money play will help Zynga as they enter this market in full force in the first half of 2013.

“Zynga is at the forefront of the next evolution of games and entertainment,” added Olsha. “The company has already built enthusiastic, engaged communities around free social casino games. And, as we move down the path towards real money offerings we will be listening carefully to our players to align with the right potential partners and offer the best gaming experience possible. Zynga is made up of incredible talent and dedicated leaders, and I am proud to have joined the team.”

This last sentence bothers me as well. Was she speaking of the talent and leaders now, or before the aforementioned mass exodus that began in August? At least now shareholders have something else besides Zynga’s stock to gamble on. Shares of the company are down approximately 68% since its IPO in December 2011. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) recently announced that it will be launching on-line gambling in the United Kingdom.



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