'Worst CEO' list calls out Zynga's Pincus, Zuckerberg's 'hoodie mentality'

Pincus was fourth on the annual five-person list, with Zuckerberg and Groupon's Mason garnering dishonorable mentions

Zynga's Mark Pincus made the annual "Worst CEOs" list compiled by Dartmouth College professor Sydney Finkelstein, which also nearly included Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Andrew Mason of Groupon.

Pincus was the fourth-worst CEO of 2012, according to Finkelstein, who teaches management at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business in Hanover, New Hampshire. His assessment was based on executives' questionable corporate strategies and governance styles, among other issues. The list included five CEOs, with Zuckerberg and Mason added as two executives who "almost (but didn't)" make it into the rankings.

This is the third annual Worst CEOs ranking compiled by Finkelstein, who authored the book "Why Smart Executives Fail." The methodology behind the list combines three factors: the firms' financial performance including stock returns and cash flow; the extent to which the CEO has behaved responsibly; and strategic leadership and corporate governance.

In Pincus' case, for example, the decision to acquire OMGPOP in March of last year for US$183 million -- a move intended to boost the company's mobile platform offerings -- may have been too costly a strategy for the technology, Finkelstein said. Zynga paid four times OMGPOP's annual sales, while OMGPOP's flagship "Draw Something" game is not patented and can be easily copied, according to Finkelstein.

Zynga reported a third-quarter 2012 net loss of $52.7 million, including an impairment charge of $95.5 million related to the acquisition, compared to net income of $12.5 million in the 2011 third quarter. It also reported that average monthly unique payers dropped from 4.1 million in the second quarter of 2012 to 3 million in the third quarter "largely driven" by "Draw Something."

The professor said he is not convinced Pincus is the right person to lead the company. "You can be a tremendous entrepreneur, but it's not the same as being a great CEO," Finkelstein said in an interview.

Zynga's business model is also overly dependent on Facebook, Finkelstein said. Though Zynga's games are accessible on a variety of social networks, the majority of the firm's revenue is generated through Facebook. The company reported that 84 percent of its third-quarter revenue was generated through Facebook. Compared to the same period in 2011, revenue declined from roughly $288 million to $286 million.

Zynga spokespeople could not be immediately reached to comment on Pincus' inclusion in the list.

In terms of Facebook specifically, Zuckerberg earned his dishonorable mention on the list partly due to his "hoodie mentality," Finkelstein said.

"There is nothing wrong with the 'hacker view' of being in love with your engineers and the creators of the technology, but when it comes to running a multibillion-dollar company, you have to behave a certain way," Finkelstein said, adding that there have been times when the CEO has insulated himself and not shown the proper respect toward outside shareholders, investors and other business interests such as Google, Apple and Cisco.

And, like Zynga, Finkelstein said that Facebook has been a little too slow in getting into the mobile space.

However, Facebook's low revenue-per-user rate of about $1.25 (based on third-quarter sales) was not a factor in Zuckerberg being mentioned as part of the list, Finkelstein said.

Meanwhile, Groupon CEO Mason's dishonorable mention stemmed from a similar "frat boy" attitude as well as the firm's corporate strategy, Finkelstein said.

"There are many other companies doing the same thing," he said.

Brian Dunn of Best Buy topped the list, followed by Aubrey McClendon of Chesapeake Energy, Andrea Jung of Avon and Rodrigo Rato of Bankia was listed fifth behind Pincus.

Tags e-commercemobile applicationsMobile gamesapplicationsmobilemark zuckerbergSydney FinkelsteintelecommunicationAndroid OSMark Pincusfinancial resultsInternet-based applications and servicesDartmouthsocial networkinginternetFacebookGrouponTuckbusiness issuesAndrew Masonsocial mediaiosZyngagamesonline servicesgame softwareMobile OSes




So maybe that 80's-guy corporate attitude is dead? A new recurring theme among leaders and innovators that isn't the drab, bland and suspiciously scripted shareholder default speech. New consumers, new investors demand thinking that is relevant and in context. The 80s are dead, the hoodies run successful businesses, the article is moot.

Harold Ramis


Successful businesses? Zynga's stock has fallen 74% since it's peak of $14.69 last March. Facebook is down 19% since the IPO. Groupon is down 80% since the IPO. None of these CEOs would be considered "80s guys". Your point, therefore, is invalid.



No tard, the point is very valid. The point is, it doesn't matter what you wear, what you look like as it doesn't affect my job or how I do my job. I don't need to wear a suit to say I am a senior level player in my company. My nose doesn't need to be up someone else's ass to advance my position, my work speaks for itself.

Maybe the peter principle is finally dead as well?!? Oh nope Harold still has a job :(

Also success doesn't have a time limit on it, $200 million is still $201 million more than you will ever get.



I think that Alan Joyce should've got a mention in this list. Share price down, staff unhappy, service slipping, iconic brand in tatters, snakes on a plane......

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