For the executives of Candy Crush maker King Digital Entertainment, Wednesday’s initial public offering couldn’t have been more sour.
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On a day when King.com celebrated its IPO by parading candy mascots from its hit game on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, the company’s shares fell dramatically. At the end of trading on Wednesday, King.com’s stock closed down 15.56% to $19.00 from its $22.50 initial offering price.
No one took the hit more than the Dublin-based company’s Chairman Melvyn Morris and CEO Riccardo Zacconi, both of whom could have been billionaires if their gaming firm had experienced a successful debut. Instead, the public markets shaved hundreds of millions off their paper net worths, as investors lacked the same exuberance and enthusiasm as they’ve shown for the likes of Twitter and Facebook shares in the last 12 months.
As the gaming company’s stock went south, so did the net worth of Zacconi and Morris, King.com’s largest individual shareholder. Assuming the company’s over-allotment option to sell more shares was not exercised Wednesday, Morris still holds about 35.6 million shares in the game developer. His stake lost $125 million in value during a poor first day of trading. Morris now has an estimated net worth of about $725 million.
Zacconi holds about 30.4 million shares after selling nearly 700,000 shares at the IPO price of $22.50. Forbes estimates his net worth at about $625 million at the end of the day, down about $105 million from Wednesday morning.
A spokesperson for the company did not respond to Forbes’ request for comment.
Hailing from Derbyshire, England, the 58-year-old Morris is a serial software entrepreneur who has struck gold with King.com. After dabbling in a hardwood flooring company in his 20s, according to the Daily Mail, he created and oversaw online dating company uDate.com in 1998, selling it five years later to USA Interactive (now known as IAC) for more than $150 million in the company’s stock. He went onto found internet security firm Prevx selling it for about $20 million in 2010 to Webroot, Inc.
Morris has served as chairman of King.com since 2003. Additionally he sits as a director of Derby County Football Club, a team that plays in the second division of English soccer.
Italian-born Zacconi, 46, worked with Morris at uDate.com as a marketing executive. With some ties to Silicon Valley, he served as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Benchmark Capital Partners prior to his time at the online dating company. He started King.com with five others soon after uDate.com and served as its co-CEO with fellow cofounder Toby Rowland from the start. When Rowland departed in 2008–possibly because of differing visions–Zacconi became the only chief executive. He serves in the same capacity to this day.
Rowland sold all his shares in 2011 for about $3 million, an unfortunate decision considering his more than 40 million share stake would be worth about $800 million today. He declined to comment on the matter to Forbes.
With their net worths now at the whims of the public markets, both Zacconi and Morris can take comfort in Mark Pincus. The Zynga cofounder and former CEO has seen his fortune rise and fall with the poor public performance since its Dec. 2011 IPO. However, due to a recent rally in the San Francisco-based company’s shares, he returned to Forbes’ World Billionaires list this year with a net worth of $1.1 billion.
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