Zynga poker exec jumps ship

Zynga Inc’s executive overseeing its key poker game has quit, hitting the gamemaker in a particularly vulnerable spot as it struggles with a steady employee exodus and falling revenue.

The exit of former Zynga Poker General Manager Laurence “Lo” Toney, announced on Toney’s LinkedIn profile on Monday and confirmed by AllThingsD, comes as the company has been talking up real-money gambling as a growth opportunity worth billions of dollars in annual revenue.

Zynga still boasts the world’s most popular poker game, even as its revenue has drooped with the flight of users from casual Facebook games such as FarmVille and CityVille.

The poker game features virtual chips and generates a fraction of the revenue for Zynga that a real-money version would make, but laws prohibiting interstate gambling and U.S. regulatory hurdles have bogged down the company’s efforts to tap into a revenue stream it badly needs.

Zynga’s stock has fallen more than 70 percent this year from its December IPO price of $10. It closed at $2.43 on Monday.

Toney, a Zynga employee since March 2010, told AllThingsD that he has no immediate plans after Zynga.

Other recent Zynga departures include Chief Operating Officer John Schappert, Chief Creative Officer Mike Verdu and Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Karp.

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Zynga poker exec jumps ship