Zynga Hires Top Gaming Talent

This week news reports indicated that San Francisco game developer Zynga has hired Maytal Ginzburg, formerly of 888 Holdings, as the company’s chief operating officer. Ginzburg will be in charge of new markets. Formerly Ginzburg was senior vice president of regulated markets at 888 Holdings and was responsible for acquiring customers and other duties. Currently 888 operates an online portal offering real money games such as internet bingo, poker and sports betting in regulated markets.

Although Ginzburg has not started to work for Zynga she is expected to start soon. The online publication ‘Social Casino Intelligence’ was the first to reveal that Ginzburg had been hired by Zynga. Zynga confirmed the company’s plan to enter real money gaming markets in July. At the time Zynga CEO Mark Pincus stated “We are developing a new growth opportunity in real-money gambling to build on our strong casino presence with Zynga Poker – the world’s largest free play poker game – and our hit bingo and slots games.”

Ginzburg’s hire is important for Zynga. Recently several top executives decided to leave and the company needs to show that it can still attract top talent. Rumor has it that several companies have received resumes from Zynga employees after the company’s stock tanked. Vice presidents Bill Mooney and Brian Birtwistle have left Zynga and other employees who have left include  Chief Operating Officer John Schappert; Alan Patmore, general manager of CityVille, who left to work at Kixeye; Erik Bethke, a general manager who oversaw Mafia Wars 2; Ya-Bing Chu, a VP in Zynga’s mobile division; and Jeremy Strauser, a general manager.

Zynga CEO Pincus confirmed that the company’s first real money games are in development. Zynga has a heave presence on Facebook and Zynga’s Facebook games include Zynga poker, bingo and slots. Pincus said the company will launch its first real money gaming products during the first half of 2013. Currently it is not clear exactly what Ginzburg will be doing at Zynga. Ginzburg told Inside Poker Business that she felt it was important to integrate social features into 888’s gaming products to make them more attractive for casual players. Ginzburg stated “We want to attract players who will play for casual entertainment, and we therefore needed to deliver social platforms that are easy to use yet provide all the interactive features users expect. The biggest risk we were running was that casual players avoided the product because of a lack of interaction, which is why so many have gone to Zynga.”