Ever since she left DARPA to lead Google's ATAP group, Regina Dugan has focused on technologies that are both ambitious and impressive. She's the leader behind the modular phones of Project Ara and the 3D-vision tablets of Project Tango. Now she's adding another, unexpected line to her resumé: member of Zynga's board of directors.
Zynga has found itself needing some reinvention, and as it approaches the one-year anniversary of naming former Microsoft executive Don Mattrick as CEO, it's hoping Dugan will help come up with product ideas. Appointments to corporate boards generally don't make for big changes, but Zynga says that Dugan will be more involved in product decisions as a part of the "product committee." "I believe we need to play," Dugan said in a statement. "Zynga is full of creative thinkers who embrace the power of play." Dugan will remain at ATAP while serving on Zynga's board.
Zynga could certainly use any advice she can provide. The company hasn't had a major hit since Mattrick took over as CEO a year ago. Last month at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch tech conference, Mattrick said that Zynga is "nowhere near where we should be." The "majority" of the leadership team at Zynga has changed in the past year, and it's overdue for a clear path forward that can get both consumers and investors interested. Speaking of overdue, Zynga is long past overdue on creating a true hit on mobile, where it has struggled to keep up with competitors. If the company wants its future history to be more than a footnote about Facebook, both Mattrick and Dugan will need to find a way to actually win at mobile gaming.