Zynga Names Best Buy’s Lee as CFO Amid Turnaround Effort

Zynga Inc. named a consumer products veteran from Best Buy Co. to be its chief financial officer, as Don Mattrick builds on efforts to turn around the struggling video-games developer.

David Lee, 42, will take up the post on April 14 as well as the role of chief accounting officer, overseeing corporate finance, accounting and investor relations, the San Francisco-based company said in a statement yesterday. He replaces Mark Vranesh, who is leaving after six years at the company.

Lee, with more than 20 years experience in the consumer industry, has carved a career out of helping turn companies around, Mattrick said. Since he was appointed chief executive officer in July, Mattrick has reassigned managers to new roles and eliminated positions as he retools Zynga for games on phones and tablets, a market it ceded to others after relying too heavily on Facebook titles such as “FarmVille.”

“He has a track record of fostering cultures of excellence and navigating business transformations through sound counsel and strategic planning,” Mattrick said yesterday.

At Best Buy, where Lee served as senior vice president of corporate finance since December 2012, he helped combat increased competition from e-commerce rivals such as Amazon.com Inc. Last year, the Richfield, Minnesota-based retailer was the third-best performer in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Leadership Positions

Before Best Buy, Lee spent more than eight years at Del Monte Foods where he held leadership positions including overseeing corporate strategy, mergers and acquisitions, transformation and corporate affairs.

Zynga’s shares were unchanged at $4.07 at the close in New York, leaving its advance this year at 7.1 percent.

Mattrick said yesterday he is “pleased” with the progress Zynga is making as it shifts to games played on mobile devices.

“This year is off to a solid start, and our teams have created a strong base for growth throughout 2014,” he said.

Five years after becoming a hit on Facebook, the first mobile version of “FarmVille” reached consumers in selected markets last month, ahead of a global rollout. “Zynga Poker” and “Words With Friends” applications for Apple Inc. and Android devices also will get face-lifts before new titles are introduced later this year.

Game makers are grappling with the fact that while they can grab millions of users with free titles, only a small percentage of those customers pay for extra items and many are fickle with their loyalties.

In January, Zynga reported a fourth-quarter net loss of 3 cents a share, narrower than the loss expected by analysts of 4 cents, while sales totaled $176.4 million, shy of an average projection of $183.3 million. The company reports first-quarter results on April 23.

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