Zynga’s CityVille Loses Mayor to Kixeye

With Zynga’s stock price sinking – and morale along with it – employees have started to head for the door.

The latest exit, following its COO John Schappert, is Alan Patmore, Zynga’s general manager of CityVille, who has joined Kixeye as their VP of Product.

Compared to its social gaming counterparts, Kixeye flies under the radar because, unlike other games found on Facebook, its games are fairly hardcore. In fact, 97 percent of its players are male.

As I wrote in May:

Kixeye is currently registering about one million users a day, and while most social game companies make roughly four cents per user, Kixeye claims it makes closer to 60 cents.

The San Francisco company has been profitable for the past two years, and this year it is projecting revenue in excess of $100 million.

It’s similar to a story that Kabam and other midcore game makers have started telling as Facebook becomes a mature gaming platform. Developers are starting to see that if they target a more hardcore demographic, then the players will be more engrossed, and, therefore, spend more time and money in the games.

Kixeye said Patmore will be responsible at Kixeye for overseeing all aspects of product strategy and development.

“I’m a big fan of Kixeye and what they’ve been able to accomplish over the last couple of years,” Patmore said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more excited about the team, strategy and product roadmap. There are some launches coming later this year that are going to set the industry on fire.”

While at Zynga, Patmore also oversaw Mafia Wars, one of Zynga’s key franchises early on, and before that, was VP of Product Development at Double Fine Productions. Patmore was also president and CEO of Surreal Software, which he co-founded and later sold to Midway in 2004.

The departure of such top talent is a blow to Zynga, which whiffed its last earnings report and reorganized its management team. As part of that, Schappert left the company after only 15 months on the job. The two departures may signal that the company, which has been fairly stable until now, will lose others.

Kixeye, which has more than 250 employees, makes equally hardcore recruiting videos to get the word out that it is hiring. Parental discretion is advised:


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— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle