Is the CEO also the “Chief Product Officer”

Mark Pincus has just stepped down from the CEO position of Zynga.com partly because of investor pressure and also to give him the time to focus on the product.

There is a lot of differing opinions of what a CEO should do. In larger more established companies with large workforces it can be to define the strategy and manage the team to execute that strategy. In public companies it used to be the Chairman that managed investors – but the transparency that is now required in public companies means the CEO is usually pulled in front of investors and analysts to explain the companies strategy and progress.

This can make it hard when you transition from a private to a public company as Mark has recently done. Additional pressure to perform and support a valuation means increased scrutiny for the CEO on performance and change.

By letting the founder CEO focus on the product, and bring in a new hire to manage investors and long term strategy (including employee moral at Zynga) this gives the company a chance to remove the microscope on performance. Giving the company the time to execute and fix the fundamental shifts that the gaming industry is seeing (Facebook platform to Mobile).

Mark is very well qualified to focus on product, and I am sure we will see a renaissance from Zynga following some pretty poor filler acquisitions in the past.

So ask yourself, are you a people manager or a product manager – you can really only be one. If product is your passion then make sure you give this enough time and don’t let your flair for this be diminished by focusing on too many other things.

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