Mark Jonathan Pincus|
February 13, 1966
B.S. University of Pennsylvania|
M.B.A. Harvard University
|Occupation||Executive Chairman at Zynga (formerly CEO  and Chief Product Officer)|
|Net worth||US$1.54 billion (February 2018)|
|Spouse(s)||Alison Gelb 2008|
Mark Jonathan Greg Pincus (born February 13, 1966) 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 Support.com; founded and launched an incubator, SuperLabs, later acquired by Zynga; and co-founded the political movement, Win the Future. Pincus served as the CEO of Zynga until July 2013, then again from 2015 to 2016.
Pincus was named 2009 "CEO of the Year" at The Crunchies technology awards and a year later was named Founder of the Year at the 2010 ceremony. Zynga is considered to be the pioneer of the social gaming industry. Within four years after Pincus founded Zynga, the company had gone public with a $1 billion IPO.
Early life and background
Pincus was born into a Jewish family in Chicago and raised in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. He is the son of Donna (née Forman) and Theodore Pincus. His father was a business columnist and public relations adviser to CEOs and politicians and his mother was an architect.
Pincus attended Francis W. Parker School from kindergarten through 12th grade and graduated in 1984. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania earned in 1988 and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he founded the Communications Club with Sherry Coutu.
Before he became an entrepreneur, Pincus worked in venture capital and financial services for six years. Pincus spent two years as a financial analyst for Lazard Freres & Co. after graduating from Wharton. After that time, he moved to Hong Kong, where he served as a Vice President for Asian Capital Partners for two years.
He returned to the United States in order to attend Harvard Business School (HBS) where he was a contemporary of Chris Hohn, Guy Spier and Chris Shumway. He graduated in 1993 and also spent a summer as an associate for Bain & Co. in 1992.
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. 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.
In 1995, Pincus launched his first startup, Freeloader, Inc., a web-based push technology service which was acquired seven months later by Individual, Inc., for $38 million.
He then started his second company, Support.com, in August 1997. As Chairman and CEO, Pincus built the company into a leading provider of service and support automation software. The company went public in July 2000. In 2002, the company changed its name from Support.com to SupportSoft, Inc.
In 2003, at age 37, Pincus founded his third startup, Tribe.net, an early social network. Tribe.net partnered with major local newspapers and was backed by Guy Spier, The Washington Post, Knight Ridder Digital, and Mayfield Fund. In 2007, Cisco Systems acquired the core technology assets of Tribe.net to develop a social networking platform for its digital media services group.
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 Sixdegrees.com company for $700,000.
Pincus was a founding investor in Napster, Facebook, Friendster, Snapchat, Xiaomi and Twitter. In 2015, Pincus invested in the nootropics company HVMN (formerly Nootrobox), man-made diamond company Diamond Foundry, and in 2014 automated investment service firm Wealthfront, among others.
See main article: Zynga
In July 2007 Pincus founded his fourth company, Zynga Inc. In 2011, Pincus took the company public with a $1 billion IPO. Pincus served as CEO of the company from 2007 to 2013. On July 1, 2013, it was confirmed that Don Mattrick, the former president of Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, was to succeed Pincus as CEO. Pincus also 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.
Pincus returned to the role of CEO of Zynga in April 2015. 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.
On November 9, 2009, Pincus said, "I did every horrible thing in the book, too, just to get revenues right away. I mean we gave our users poker chips if they downloaded this Zwinky toolbar which was like, I don't know, I downloaded it once and couldn't get rid of it,". Pincus noted that after offering the Zwinky toolbar, he and his team decided to remove it because it was a "painful experience." Zynga also announced in November 2009 that it would take steps to remove scams from its games, a widely reported issue at the time. In a 2009 blog post Pincus wrote that Zynga had earlier faced an F rating with the better business bureau but was able to raise its score to a B+ after improving customer support efforts. As of September 2017, Zynga had an A+ rating with the better business bureau.
Philanthropy and community service
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. He was appointed to the board by President Obama in 2017.
In October 2009, Pincus started Zynga.org, which is "committed to transforming the world through virtual social goods." Zynga.org has since raised more than $20 million for more than 50 international nonprofits by occasionally selling virtual goods for charitable causes.
In 2010, some criticized Zynga.org for keeping up to 50 percent of the donations it collected for Haiti earthquake relief. The criticisms were based on a Brazilian magazine article but were widely reported over social media and the blogosphere. Some follow-up articles reported that Zynga.org had confused its users about donations to Haiti relief efforts.
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. During the 2012 holiday season, Zynga.org 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.
In 2008, Pincus married Alison Gelb. Alison Gelb Pincus went on to found One Kings Lane, a furniture and home accessories sales website that was sold to Bed Bath & Beyond in 2016. The couple had three children, twin girls and a boy, and lived in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. In March 2017, Alison Gelb Pincus filed for divorce citing "irreconcilable differences" and challenged the validity of their prenuptial agreement.
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A serial entrepreneur, he sold his first company, Freeloader, an early Internet broadcast service, for $38 million, and took public his second, a business software maker called Support.com.
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