'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.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Sydney Finkelsteine-commercetelecommunicationiossocial networkinginternetFacebookmobile applicationsAndroid OSZyngaMark PincusMobile OSesgamesDartmouthmark zuckerbergfinancial resultssocial mediaGrouponTuckbusiness issuesInternet-based applications and servicesMobile gamesapplicationsonline servicesmobileAndrew Masongame software

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?