Andrew Trader, an early team member of red-hot gaming startup Zynga, is now joining venture capital firm Maveron, the company told VentureBeat late Monday.
Trader, known as “A.T.”, built and managed all business operations at Zynga as vice president of sales and business development before quietly exiting the company in March to “pursue other entrepreneurial opportunities and to spend more time with my family.”
Since then, speculation has been rampant about where Trader might land, but his choice of Maveron, where he’ll become an “entrepreneur in residence,” seems in line with his past experience. The Seattle and San Francisco-based company has a high profile among technology-enabled consumer brands including eBay, Capella Education Company and Shutterfly.
Trader joined Zynga nine months after the company was founded and oversaw business and revenue development, marketing and user acquisition. He also took the firm into lucrative strategic partnerships with like-minded companies, including Facebook, which led to Zynga’s most famous success, the development of online gaming community Farmville.
During Trader’s time with the company, Zynga saw its traffic spike to 60 million daily users, and the company was in the black within a year of launching.
But his time at Zynga was not without its trials. He was VP of business development during the “Scamville” scandal in October 2009, during which users playing the firm’s games were given the option to gain in-game currency by participating in questionable “special offers” that signed them up for subscription deals unknowingly or hooked them into questionable ad deals.
The fallout from these tactics snowballed, leading some Silicon Valley insiders to wonder if Trader’s exit was a inevitable casualty of the fracas.
Whatever the reasons for his departure from still-booming Zynga, Trader told VentureBeat Monday that he is looking forward to moving ahead into the VC space.
“I’m thrilled to be joining Maveron as an EIR. My passions are around transformational consumer experiences and massive growth,” he said. “Working with Amy Errett and the Maveron team will enable me to use my experience from Zynga, Tribe and Coremetrics to identify and capitalize on the next big consumer opportunity.“ (Tribe and Coremetrics are two companies Trader cofounded before he joined the Zynga team.)
Maveron was founded in January 1998 by former Wall Streeter Dan Levitan and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz as a company focused on nursing along fast-growing consumer companies. It currently has significant stakes in Pinkberry, Livemocha, Allconnect and Zulily, and has overseen monetized investment acquisitions in eBay, Qsent, Good Technology and Lucy Activewear.
Maveron has approximately $750 million under management and 23 active portfolio companies nationwide.