Zynga Adds Diversity to Board With Yahoo Veteran Ellen Siminoff

Zynga Adds Diversity to Board With Yahoo Veteran Ellen Siminoff
Zynga Inc. follows other tech companies, including Facebook Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. , in adding a female director. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Zynga Inc., the biggest developer of games for social-networking websites, named former Yahoo! Inc. executive Ellen Siminoff as its first female director, as boardrooms at top Silicon Valley companies become more diverse.

Siminoff, 44, who held various roles at Yahoo from 1996 to 2002, joins eight men on Zynga’s board, the San Francisco-based company said today in a statement. She is currently chief executive officer of education startup Shmoop University Inc.

Zynga follows other tech companies, including Facebook Inc. and Yahoo, in adding a female director, answering calls of concern that governance at large corporations is too male-dominated. Facebook appointed Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg as its first female director last month, while Yahoo named Marissa Mayer as chief executive officer and a director this week.

“There is something to be said for boards having people who are representative of their customers,” Siminoff said today in a telephone interview. Zynga’s “core demographic right now is women who are middle-aged, and I fit into that demographic.”

Siminoff also serves on the boards of Journal Communications Inc., Mozilla Corp., Solarwinds Inc., and U.S. Auto Parts Network Inc. Prior to joining Shmoop, a company her husband founded in 2007, Siminoff was CEO of Efficient Frontier, a search-engine marketing company later acquired by Adobe Systems Inc.

At Yahoo, she rose to become senior vice president, overseeing units including the Web portal’s entertainment division. Her focus at one time included Yahoo Games, an early online gaming site, an experience that may inform her role on the board of Zynga, she said.

Male Only

“They have a lot of users, they have high engagement, and they have figured out a revenue model,” Siminoff said of Zynga. “I think there’s a huge opportunity for them.”

Zynga’s board includes founder and CEO Mark Pincus, chief operating officer John Schappert, venture capitalists Reid Hoffman and Bing Gordon, and Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc.

Just 11.3 percent of the Fortune 500 had male-only boards last year, according to Catalyst, a New York-based nonprofit organization that researches women’s progress in business.

Zynga fell 1.2 percent to $4.56 at the close in New York. The shares have dropped more than 50 percent since its initial public offering in December.

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