Mark Pincus, the founder of social gaming giant Zynga who gave up the CEO role as revenues stalled, has started a new incubator dubbed Superlabs to fund startups.
Pincus is still chairman of Zynga, the maker of social games such as FarmVille, but he relinquished the CEO title and day-to-day responsibilities last year to Don Mattrick, the former head of Microsoft’s games business. The new San Francisco startup will fund ideas that Pincus has been mulling over now that he has more time, according to Re/code’s Kara Swisher, who dubbed the business the “Pincubator.”
As chairman, Pincus said he still puts time in at Zynga, but he gave up the chief product officer role he had after Mattrick came on board.
In an interview with GamesBeat, Pincus said that working on big product ideas with Zynga engineers was one of the most “fulfilling career experience I have ever had.” His day-to-day job was working with “brilliant product teams,” working with them on ideas, and then taking them to market. He does less of that now, and still has lots of ideas he wants to test.
“It’s really to house the projects where I can incubate my own ideas,” Pincus said. “It is not a traditional incubator like Idealabs. If I can introduce one breakthrough consumer product in the next five years, I would be really happy.”
He has hired a handful of engineers to work on ideas he has come up — but he’s not disclosing any of those yet. Pincus became a multibillionaire after Zynga went public at $10 a share in 2011, but Zynga’s valuation and his net worth have fallen as the stock price has sunk to $2.35 a share. Still, he has plenty of money to invest.
Folks like Pincus don’t sit on the sidelines for long. He started four companies to date, with Zynga being the most successful.
“Zynga got to a place where it was more management CEO and less hands-on product maker,” Pincus said. “That is what I love to do. That’s one I’m passionate about, being ‘close to the metal.’ I did this when there was no businesss on the internet. I did it in 1999 when it was hot. And I did it when it was cold. I’m passionate about getting things into people’s hands. I can’t do anything else.”
While he has a lot of money, Pincus said that he wants to grow his new ideas organically, starting out small until they get it right.
“By funding it myself, I can be organic in my approach,” Pincus said. “If you raise money early, you may make it more structured than it needs to be than if you do it organically. This is structured. It’s also dangerous. You can fall in love with your own ideas. You have to make sure it resonates with someone besides yourself.”
Zynga is scheduled to post earnings after market close today.