Mark Pincus

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Mark Pincus
BornMark Jonathan Pincus
(1966-02-13) February 13, 1966 (age 52)
Chicago, Illinois
ResidenceSan Francisco
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materB.S. University of Pennsylvania
M.B.A. Harvard University
OccupationExecutive Chairman at Zynga (formerly CEO [1] and Chief Product Officer)[2][3]
Net worthIncrease US$1.54 billion (February 2018)[4]
Spouse(s)Alison Gelb 2008

Mark Jonathan Pincus (born February 13, 1966)[5] is an American Internet entrepreneur known as the founder of Zynga, a mobile social gaming company. Pincus also founded the startups Freeloader, Inc., Tribe Networks, and;[6] founded and launched an incubator, SuperLabs, later acquired by Zynga;[7] and co-founded the political movement, Win the Future.[8] Pincus served as the CEO of Zynga until July 2013, then again from 2015 to 2016.[9]

Pincus was named 2009 "CEO of the Year"[10] at The Crunchies technology awards[11] and a year later was named Founder of the Year at the 2010 ceremony.[12] Zynga is considered to be the pioneer of the social gaming industry.[13] In 2011, Zynga went public with a $1 billion IPO.[14]

Early life and background[edit]

Pincus was born into a Jewish family[15] in Chicago and raised in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. He is the son of Donna (née Forman) and Theodore Pincus.[16][17] His father was a business columnist and public relations adviser to CEOs and politicians[18] and his mother was an artist and architect.[19]

Pincus attended Francis W. Parker School from kindergarten through 12th grade and graduated in 1984.[20] He graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics [21] from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania earned in 1988[22] and an MBA from Harvard Business School,[23] where he founded the Communications Club with Sherry Coutu.[24]


Financial services[edit]

Before he became an entrepreneur, Pincus worked in venture capital and financial services for six years. After graduating from Wharton, Pincus spent two years working as an analyst in the New Media Group at Lazard Freres & Co.[25] [26] After that time, he moved to Hong Kong, where he served as a Vice President for Asian Capital Partners for two years.[27][28]

He returned to the United States in order to attend Harvard Business School (HBS) where he was a contemporary of Chris Hohn, Guy Spier[29] and Chris Shumway.[30] He graduated in 1993[31] and also spent a summer as an associate for Bain & Co. in 1992.[32]

After Pincus graduated from Harvard Business School, he took a job as a manager of corporate development at Tele-Communications, Inc., which is now AT&T Cable.[33] A year later, he joined Columbia Capital as Vice President, where he led investments in new media and software startups in Washington, D.C. for a year.[34][30]



In 1995, Pincus founded his first startup, Freeloader, Inc. [35] Freeloader was backed by Fred Wilson and Softbank. [36] The company was acquired seven months after its launch by Individual, Inc., for $38 million. [37][28] Sean Parker worked as a summer intern at Freeloader when it was 14 years old. He later went on to co-found Napster, and Pincus became Napster’s first investor with an investment of $100,000.[38][39][edit]

He then started his second company,, in August 1997. As Chairman and CEO, Pincus built the company into a leading provider of help desk automation software. The company went public in July 2000 at a $1.5 billion valuation.[40] In 2002, the company changed its name from to SupportSoft, Inc.[41][edit]

In 2003, at age 37, Pincus founded his third startup,, an early social network.[42] partnered with major local newspapers and was backed by The Washington Post, Knight Ridder Digital, and Mayfield Fund and Guy Spier,. In 2007, Cisco Systems acquired the core technology of to develop a social networking platform for its digital media services group.[43]

In 2003, Pincus and Reid Hoffman purchased the Six Degrees patent, a broad, sweeping patent that describes a social network service that is the heart of social networks from the extinct company for $700,000.[44][45] Pincus and Hoffman stated at the time that their objective in buying the patent was to protect innovation in social networking and to prevent large companies from interfering with this. Pincus and Hoffman have never enforced the patent.[46]


Pincus was a founding investor in Napster, Facebook, Friendster, Snapchat, Xiaomi and Twitter.[47][48] He was also an early investor in, [49] Brightmail (later acquired by Symantec for $400m),[50] and Buddy Media (acquired by Salesforce for $800m).[51] In 2015, Pincus invested in the nootropics company HVMN (formerly Nootrobox),[52][53][54] man-made diamond company Diamond Foundry,[55] and in 2014 automated investment service firm Wealthfront,[56] among others.[57]


See main article: Zynga

In July 2007 Pincus founded his fourth company, Zynga Inc.[58][59][60][61] Zynga developed games on top of social networks such as Facebook, Myspace, and Bebo. Zynga’s games have been played by more than 1 billion people.[62]

In 2011, Pincus took the company public with a $1 billion IPO.[63] Pincus served as CEO of the company from 2007 to 2013.[64] On July 1, 2013, Zynga recruited Don Mattrick, the former president of Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, was to succeed Pincus as CEO.[65] Pincus remained actively involved in the company as Chairman of the Board and Chief Product Officer, [66] but stepped down from his role as chief product officer to focus on his role as chairman of the board, the company announced in April 2014.[3]

Pincus returned to the role of CEO of Zynga in April 2015.[67] On March 7, 2016, Pincus stepped down as CEO, but continued his association with Zynga as Executive Chairman of the Board with Frank Gibeau in the role of CEO.[68]


In 2014 Pincus started Superlabs, an incubator to fund startups. Zynga acquired Superlabs in 2015.[69][70]

In 2017, Pincus, alongside Reid Hoffman and Adam Werbach, launched Win the Future, a movement within the Democratic Party.[71][72]

Philanthropy and community service[edit]

Presidio Trust[edit]

Pincus is a member of the board of the Presidio Trust, a federal agency that operates and maintains the Presidio as part of the Golden Gate Recreation Area.[73] He was appointed to the board by President Obama in 2017.[74][edit]

In October 2009, Pincus started, which is "committed to transforming the world through virtual social goods."[75] has since raised more than $20 million[76] for more than 50 international nonprofits[77][78] by occasionally selling virtual goods for charitable causes.[79]

On March 11, 2011, Zynga announced that 100 percent of the proceeds from the purchase of virtual goods from more than seven of its games would go toward Japan's Save the Children Earthquake Emergency Fund.[80][81] During the 2012 holiday season, partnered with Toys for Tots in its largest charitable campaign not related to disaster relief. The campaign raised $745,000, with 100 percent of the purchase price of certain virtual goods going to Toys for Tots.[76]

Personal life[edit]

In 2008, Pincus married Alison Gelb. She went on to found One Kings Lane, a furniture and home accessories sales website that was sold to Bed Bath & Beyond in 2016. They have three children, twin girls and a boy, and live in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. In March 2017, Alison Gelb Pincus filed for divorce citing "irreconcilable differences." [82]

Pincus spends his time away from work with his daughters, cycling,[83] surfing, playing soccer[84] and doing yoga.[85]


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