The real pleasure for me in doing our PandoMonthly events is getting to peer inside the heads of the most fascinating people in our industry and talk about about their deepest ambitions and the stories behind their companies.
Earlier, I wrote my take on Mark Pincus stepping aside as CEO of Zynga and hiring Don Mattrick to fill his shoes. (Both pictured happily above.) But here are Mark Pincus, John Doerr and Fred Wilson talking about Pincus’s CEO tenure in their own words.
The Pincus interview was from a year ago, while the Doerr and Wilson interviews were in the last few months– as the company was looking for a new CEO according to press reports.
First up, here’s Pincus talking about his aspiration to run Zynga forever.
He talks about his aspiration to scale with the job, saying, “At the end of the day the CEO of the company is going to set the direction and the priorities in a way no one else can. I don’t think you can delegate or outsource that. You might have to because maybe you can’t scale as CEO.”
But he carefully couches that as an aspiration. He says more conclusively his only exit from the company is “natural causes.” He’s stayed true to that by staying onboard as chief product officer, staying on the board and by most accounts being heavily involved in recruiting his successor. Pincus clearly wants this transition to work even if it wasn’t his first choice.
We also talked with Doerr about Pincus as an entrepreneur and how he compares to other greats the firm has backed. He says that Zynga “missed mobile,” but says “Mark is incredibly self-aware, candid and transparent” and says they both feel there’s still an enormous opportunity for the company. With retrospect, the self awareness line speaks volumes about what was going on at the board level at the time.
Wilson meantime talked about the punishing nature of life in a “hits business.” He added: “I don’t think Zynga’s done but I’ve known Mark for a long time….You cannot bet against Mark Pincus.” And to my point earlier that Pincus has clearly picked his desire for Zynga to become a “digital skyscraper” over his own ambition to stay CEO, Wilson added: “He’s got a lot of himself in Zynga, I just don’t see him letting all that go to hell.”
And finally, here’s Reid Hoffman on Pincus and Zynga’s post-IPO challenges:
(Huge thanks to David Holmes for spending the afternoon pulling these.)