Barry Cottle has 30 million reasons to join Zynga

March 23, 2012

Back in January, the decision by Barry Cottle to leave Electronic Arts (EA) and join the newly public Zynga (ZNGA) generated lots of buzz. In this story, the LA Times described Cottle’s move as part of a bigger “hunting game” for big name gaming talent, noting that Cottle, whose avatar is pictured here, “was the latest in a series of senior EA executives to have joined Zynga.”

In this press release announcing his new role, Cottle said, “I’m proud and thrilled to join the Zynga team, the pioneer and driving force behind the social games industry. I’m looking forward to being part of building play for the world in a way that truly connects people and delights players everywhere, each and every day.”

But earlier this morning, it became clear that it wasn’t just the opportunity to be part of an upstart that excited Cottle. Cold hard cash probably played a role too, according to this employment agreement that was filed as part of an amended S-1 first thing this morning.

We’ll start with the $2 million signing bonus. There’s also a guaranteed bonus of $250,000 per quarter for the first year and 2 million Zynga stock units, which convert to Zynga stock over the next five years. At current prices, the stock alone is worth $26.2 million. When you add the whole package up, the grand total is closer to $30 million.

Equally interesting to us is that there’s no mention in the filing of any sort of relocation bonus or moving expenses, both of which are pretty standard, especially when an executive is required to move to the uber-expensive Bay Area.

Because Cottle wasn’t a named executive at Electronic Arts, we don’t know how this package compares to what he was making there. Granted, he did own just under 50,000 shares of EA stock as of mid-December, according to this Form 4. But at today’s prices, that works out to just over $800,000, or a fraction of what Zynga put on the table.

There’s a moral in all of this: the next time your son or daughter can’t tear themselves away from CityVille or FrontierVille, maybe you should give in and let them continue playing.

Image source: Zynga website

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