Mark Pincus
Founder,
Chief Executive Officer &
Chief Product Officer

Mark is the founder, CEO and chief product officer of Zynga. He founded the company in 2007 with a mission of connecting the world through games, and in founding zynga.org, he also believes that games can do good.

On his way to creating Zynga, Mark started three companies. In 2003, he launched Tribe.net, one of the first social networks. Before that, he founded Support.com, a pioneer in automating tech support, and took it public. In 1995, he launched FreeLoader, the first web-based consumer push company. Mark started his career in new media and venture capital before he discovered his calling as a consumer technology entrepreneur. Mark also made founding investments in Napster, Brightmail, Twitter and Facebook.

Mark graduated summa cum laude from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and earned an MBA from Harvard Business School. He is an angel investor in multiple Silicon Valley startups and regularly gives lectures to aspiring entrepreneurs.

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Mark Pincus

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July 13, 2007

Comments

I find the impulse to comment anonymously or with a pseudonym on forums is an extremely compelling one, particularly on bad or misinformed press. I am sure John Mackey isn't the only "stupid" CEO who has done this -- there is a strong human need to want to defend yourself, and it is natural to enjoy the same anonymity or pseudonymous identity of other participants. (Obviously, commenting publicly on the forums probably wasn't really an option for Mackey)

Consider as well the inherent tendency and ease of Internet users to role-play personas -- even on this blog there have been at least two different and distinct Marc Pincus personas.

So while I was shocked when I heard the breathless story on NPR (Mostly thinking: "Doesn't he have better things to do?")
upon reflection, what Mackey did was completely normal and unsurprising when you actually think about it -- I am positive that an Internet "Kinsey Report" would show many people have done the same, and lots of celebrities and executives read and contribute (often anonymously) to the forums in which they are discussed.

I also don't think the practice of commenting anonymously on one's company or work is any more morally wrong than, say, "leaking" to journalists....it adds another voice and perspective to the debate.

Anonymous comments also have the benefit of being taken entirely at face value -- For example, KidCroesus, the pseudonymous author of this comment, could be a white collar criminal in jail or a Harvard ethics professor (Mackey's George W. Bush point, which I agree with) -- you have to decide for yourself whether you think I make valid points. The very fact that I am posting under a pseudonym automatically raises the bar on my credibility and bias. And by the way, I take it as a given that anyone who is posting on Yahoo!'s financial forums is almost assuredly biased already.

Mackey definitely did cross an ethical line if he knowingly slandered (actually lied about) another company in order to lower its shares. That is the moral equivalent of a "pump and dump" play, and illegal. But if he was telling the truth, I'm not sure I see the legal or ethical problem.
What Mackey did was no different than telling his PR VP to create the perception in the media that his competitor was having financial problems. Hardball, to be sure, but unethical?

So was it stupid? Well it *is* embarrassing and it *seems* stupid, but who really imagines their pseudonymous identity will be outed? This is actually one of the first times I can remember it happening.

And I sincerely hope it continues to be a rare occurrence, because preserving anonymity is an important element of free speech.

Kid Croesus

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