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Executive shuffle at Zynga as Owen Van Natta steps down

November 17, 2011 |  2:29 pm

Owen Van Natta, whose high-profile hire at Zynga Inc. made headlines 15 months ago, has relinquished his role as chief business officer at the San Francisco social gaming company.

Van Natta, the former chief executive of Myspace and chief operating officer of Facebook, has instead taken on an advisory role at Zynga and will remain on the company's board, according to documents the company filed Thursday with Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company did not name a replacement for Van Natta, who last year collected more than $28 million in salary, bonuses, stock grants and options, according to the filing.

Owen Van Natta Zynga's spokesman declined to elaborate on Van Natta's diminished role. Executives familiar with the decision who were not authorized to speak publicly said Van Natta specialized in developing business strategy, and less on the type of operational expertise currently required at the company.

Zynga, whose games include Farmville and Mafia Wars, has grown to employ 2,789 workers, up from 576 less than two years ago.

The company is planning to sell shares on the public stock market and is required to notify the SEC of major changes, including senior executive shuffles.

Zynga also disclosed that Brad Feld, a venture capitalist and early investor in the company, would leave the board. The board appointed Sunil Paul, a partner in Spring Ventures, to replace Feld.

Although Zynga filed papers with the SEC in July to raise as much as $1 billion through an initial public offering of stock, the company has not said when it will start selling its shares. Some analysts have speculated that Zynga is waiting for the stock and credit markets to recover before launching its IPO.

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-- Alex Pham

Photo: Owen Van Natta. Credit: Zynga

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