Regina Dugan, Google's vice president of engineering and head of the advanced technology and projects group, is now joining Zynga's board of directors.
Zynga chief Don Mattrick called Dugan a "true catalyst for creative thinking at Zynga," according to TechCrunch. He's certainly right that Dugan, whose group is responsible for temporary electronic tattoos to unlock smartphones and a pill that makes one's whole body a password, is kind of a rock star. Dugan is also the former director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, otherwise known as DARPA, where she was the first woman in the post. So it makes sense that Zynga wants her, but why would Dugan want Zynga?
Dugan joins after LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg left the board last month, and Zynga needs to place someone on the board or risk being out of compliance with NASDAQ rules. Dugan is the fifth independent director, along with founder and chair Mark Pincus, Bing Gordon and Mattrick. She will be head of the board's nominating and governance committee and part of the product committee.
Dugan had this to say in the memo:
I believe we need to play. Zynga is full of creative thinkers who embrace the power of play. Einstein famously stated that ‘combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought,’ and this spirit is embodied in Zynga’s products, which have brought new technology to games. Games that help people connect, share, rest and energize through play. I look forward to working with Don and the board on the company’s next chapter.
Zynga's history has been checkered. When the company had its initial public offering in 2011, it was valued at $7 billion, but since then the social gaming company has been floundering -- although it has rallied recently. Dugan probably is taking the high-profile director position as a way to establish her name and expertise, maybe even her brand if you like, but it's likely Zynga got the best part of the deal by hiring Dugan.