The CEO Shafted Me, But I'm Still Buying His Stock
That's why, even though I grow more angry with him by the day, I continue to give Zynga(ZNGA) CEO Mark Pincus the benefit of the doubt.
Absent inside information and a line into his recent psychological processes, it's pretty much impossible to know if Pincus acted inappropriately or, even worse, illegally prior to his stock's plunge to sub-$3 territory.
When I watch a so-called dirty hit in hockey, for example, I cringe at the ensuing suspension. Often, it results not from some obvious transgression or a serious injury, but from what sports leagues call "intent to injure." How in the world can a league official know what a player was thinking in the split second when he checked another player into the boards?
They can't. It's just not possible. The subjective game of assigning intent to an athlete or CEO puts the accuser in somewhat dangerous territory.
With that said, it's tough to not haul off and verbally smack Pincus upside the head. Let's review what we have seen from the Zynga CEO over the last several months. Pincus, along with other insiders, sold ZNGA stock at $12 a share prior to the company's lockup expiration, after a first-quarter earnings beat and one day into the second quarter, which would end up being a beyond-disastrous quarter for Zynga.
But here again, unless you're an insider, you do not know what they knew. It's not simply that I refuse to assign intent, but I have a difficult time thinking that people, even big banks, could perpetrate such downright evil.
I'm not sure Zynga executives were acting shady; instead, investors should be more concerned with how incredibly clueless management was as Q1 turned into Q2.
It's easy to get angry, though. Right around this time, Pincus sold two San Francisco homes for $1.9 million and $8.2 million. He then turned around, quite possibly using a chunk of the $200 million he collected in the secondary offering, to pick up a $16 million 11,500-square-foot mansion in Pacific Heights.
The sky was falling. But Pincus was living the dream. He was picking out the perfect bidet, while ZNGA longs, myself included, were about to lose our shirts on his stock.