Kara Swisher

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Zynga Rejiggers Comp in a Bid to Retain Top Execs and Tie to Performance


Zynga just filed a new 8-K regulatory document outlining revised compensation arrangements with its top tier of execs that ups the salary and bonuses, as well as restricted stock units, but ties them more closely to performance and the turnaround of the struggling social gaming company.

That is, except CEO and founder Mark Pincus, whose annual salary has been reduced to $1 and who will not receive any bonus or equity in 2013 — which is not an uncommon move for tech company leaders.

Said Zynga in its filing:

“The Company’s 2013 executive compensation program is designed to focus on two primary objectives: first, retaining and motivating our talented, entrepreneurial executive leadership team; and second, aligning our executive pay structure with company performance-based incentives. We believe that by focusing on both retention and performance, the compensation packages align with our strategy to build long-term value for our stockholders.”

The Section 16 execs impacted include: COO David Ko; general counsel Reggie Davis; Steve Chiang, president of games; Barry Cottle, chief revenue officer; CTO Cadir Lee; and CFO Mark Vranesh.

Interestingly, most of their salaries — which are about double their previous compensation — are now $500,000 for all, except Vranesh and Davis, who will earn $425,000.

Possible bonuses of zero to 200 percent of their cash salary, as well as the same level of stock grants from 970,500 to 1.8 million shares each, are tied to the performance of Zynga games, expanding the network and certain adjusted EBITDA levels. The RSUs vest over four years and nothing will be paid until February of 2014, after performance targets are met.

Zynga, whose stock has largely languished since its IPO in late 2011, has also suffered from a spate of executive turnovers, which has seemed never-ending and has added to Wall Street’s concern. Most recently, CTO Debra Chrapaty resigned to take a CEO job elsewhere; and, this week, the head of Zynga’s New York office and former CEO of OMGPOP, Dan Porter, left after that $180 million acquisition failed to garner the pop it promised.

Due to the many departures, Pincus rejiggered his exec lineup in November, giving the latest team members larger roles and focusing the San Francisco-based group on major areas of opportunity, such as real-money gaming and mobile.

Here’s the whole filing:

Form 8-K

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work