updated 01:17 am EDT, Wed August 29, 2012
New company backed, published by Zynga
Chief Creative Officer Mike Verdu is departing casual Facebook game manufacturer Zynga. Verdu's reports that he is "concerned about how this might be viewed with what else is going on, but it's not a function of anything else going on at the company," likely referring to the plummeting of the stock price and allegations of improper stock sale by company insiders.
Verdu is leaving to start a new company, and said that Zynga will be both investing in the new company and publishing titles generated by it. The unnamed venture will be focusing on developing mobile games, an increasing trend that Zynga seems to have historically missed.
In a statement, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus said "Mike has been a good friend to me personally as well as professionally, and has been an influential creative leader to us all. I'm proud of the legacy that Mike has helped build and the deep bench of creative talent and leaders who will carry the torch and shape the next wave of creativity at Zynga. Zynga will be on the ground floor with Mike on his next venture as an investor in his new start-up. We are excited for Mike in this next chapter in his distinguished career and we are grateful for his contributions to Zynga."
Zynga is being sued from multiple angles. Nearly-identical lawsuits are being filed by two California law firms seeking class-action status on behalf of stockholders who allege Zynga never warned them about financial problems. The company's shares dropped 42 percent last week on reports of poor player retention and unexpected competition. Game giant Electronic Arts is suing Zynga because EA's The Sims Social and Zynga's The Ville are "nearly indistinguishable."