Brain Drain at Zynga: CFO Leaves For Facebook

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Zynga ( ZNGA) announced that Dave Wehner resigned as Chief Financial Officer on Tuesday, the latest high-profile departure at the social gamer. Any concerns about Wehner's exit, though, could be overblown, says Jefferies analyst Brian Pitz.

In an analyst note discussing the transition, Pitz noted a level of comfort with the move, as Chief Accounting Officer Mark Vranesh takes back the role of Zynga CFO. He was previously the company's finance chief from 2008 to 2010, having overseen the company's IPO. "We have worked with Mark in the past, and are extremely comfortable with the transition," Pitz wrote in his note. He rates shares "hold" with a $2.50 price target.

Wehner is leaving the company to take a senior finance position at Facebook ( FB).

There were other organizational changes at Zynga this week. David Ko, who had been Zynga's Chief Mobile Officer, has been promoted to COO. Barry Cottle was named Chief Revenue Officer, and Steven Chiang was named President of Games.

"Dave remains a good friend to us all and we wish him success in his next role," said CEO and founder Mark Pincus in the press release. "Mark, David, Barry and Steve are rooted in our culture, committed to our future and part of the talented bench of leadership at Zynga. I'm confident we have the right team to deliver on our mission of connecting the world through games and position us for long-term growth."

Others believe that Wehner's departure at a time of uncertainty for the company will only add to the risks for the San Francisco-based social gaming company.

Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson called the loss "a major distraction for the Zynga management team, development teams and social gaming partners." He lowered his price target to $2.50, but kept his "neutral" rating.

Zynga has lost a number of key executives in recent months, including the company's Chief Creative Officer, Mike Verdu, the Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer, Jeff Karp, and others. Wehner's transition is the latest, though the fact that the company reaffirmed its 2012 financial outlook is a good sign for the company.

Zynga shares are higher in Wednesday trading, up 3.23% to $2.18.

Interested in more on Zynga? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.

--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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