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Owen Van Natta resigns as Zynga’s chief business officer

Owen Van Natta
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Former Facebook COO and MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta is once again looking for a job: he’s just resigned as the chief business officer of social game maker Zynga, the company that pushes popular online games like Words with Friends and Farmville. Van Natta will continue to serve on Zynga’s board of directors, but his position as chief business officer ended on November 16. As a result, Van Natta will explicitly miss out on millions of dollars in stock options related to Zynga’s pending IPO.

The resignation was revealed in a series of filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission; the terms of Van Natta’s transition outline his new position on the board and waiving of stock options.

In his new role on the board, Van Natta will apparently serve as a strategic advisor on major partnerships. Zynga also announced two other changes to its board: venture capitalist Brad Feld will be leaving the board (a move that is typical as venture-backed companies get ready to go public), while entrepreneur Sunil Pail (who founded FreeLoader) will move in to Feld’s seat.

Van Natta came to Zynga in July, 2010, only a few months after serving less than a year as CEO of MySpace. No specific reasons were given for his departure from MySpace, and, similarly, no reasons have been given for his departure from Zynga. However, he shouldn’t have much trouble landing on his feet: during his time at Zynga, Van Natta netted roughly $28 million in salary and bonuses. Prior to MySpace, Van Natta worked for three years as chief operating officer and chief revenue officer at Facebook.

Speculation about Van Natta’s resignation from Zynga comes in the wake of a Wall Street Journal article (subscription required) examining Zynga’s early stock option grants to early employees and executives who are no longer actively involved in the company. Zynga can’t legally take those options back; Van Natta’s resignation and specific waiving of his options may be a move to appease potential investors.

Zynga filed for an IPO back in July, but so far has yet to announce a date when its stock will go on sale.

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Geoff Duncan
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