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Why Zynga Couldn’t Make It

Ask ten of your friends to name a social gaming company and, chances are, most of them will say, “Zynga.”

With that kind of name recognition, and the massive head start they had on the rest of the market, you’d think that Zynga would be dominating the social casino market, but they’re not.

Just last week it was revealed that Zynga’s dominance of the Facebook social casino market had been usurped by the upstart DoubleDown Casino. That’s big news for a company that’s absolutely ruled the genre since day one.

Slipping into second place won’t exactly be music to Zynga’s long-suffering shareholders who thought they were betting on a sure thing when they purchased shares on opening day for $10. By the end of trading that day, Zynga stock was moving at $9.50.

Though it’s been as high as $14.48, all that bad news has taken its toll. When the closing bell rang on Friday, a Zynga share could be had for $3.01.

So what the heck happened to the social gaming company that could have had it all?

Bad Timing

Farmville, Zynga’s signature game was launched in the summer of 2009, at almost exactly the same time as the first iPhone was launched. Though Farmville would eventually peak out at 80 million active players, the simple browser-based game couldn’t compete with more advanced mobile games.

Though Zynga’s tried to play catch up by purchasing already established games like, Words with Friends, it’s all been too-little-too-late. Smart phone users are demanding something more advanced than what Zynga’s been offering and the company’s been unable to recapture that initial Farmville magic.

A Dysfunctional Workplace

Despite the Foosball tables and free Snapple, tech companies are seriously demanding workplaces, but Zynga seems like an especially tough place to make a living. Besides sporadic reports of misery amongst the ranks, Zynga’s seen a steady flow of executives walk in, and out, of their corporate offices.

Though they’re trying to stabilize their rapidly sinking ship, Zynga’s current regime has a big job ahead of them.

What’s in Zynga’s Future?

Zynga’s latest strategy for staying in front of doom is an increasing reliance on real-money gambling apps and, potentially, a land-based casino connection of some kind. While both strategies have some real potential, it could be years before their full potential is realized.

Until then, Zynga execs, and shareholders, can ruminate on the series of missed opportunities and poor managerial decisions that brought them to the height of Internet success and back.

What do you think about the rise, and potential fall, of Zynga? Share your opinions in the comments section below.