Zynga CEO Steps Down, Xbox’s Don Mattrick Takes Over

Joe Goldman  |

Zynga’s (ZNGA) founder and CEO Mark Pincus announced in a press release on Monday that he has yielded his CEO position to Don Mattrick, who recently served as the head of Microsoft’s (MSFT) Xbox division.

Zynga, a leading provider of social gaming services, has reported declining sales and negative earnings in recent quarters, prompting the company to lay off 520 employees and the stock to plunge from $14 in 2012 to under $3 per share at Friday’s close. With the hire, the San Francisco-based Zynga is hoping that Mattrick can reinvigorate the company's sales and gaming innovation.

“Don is unique in the gaming business,” said Pincus, who founded Zynga in 2007 and will remain Chairman and Chief Product Officer. “He can execute in multiple domains – hardware, software, and network, and he’s been the person responsible for game franchises like ‘Need for Speed,’ ‘FIFA,’ and ‘The Sims.’”

Mattrick served as the president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business for the last three years.  He also has experience with Electronic Arts (EA) and even founded his own software company at the age of 17, which would later become EA Canada.

“Don loves games and gives developers the freedom they need to surprise and delight players; but he also knows better than anyone that an innovative games company is a demanding and complex enterprise. Few people are up to that; Don is,” said Bing Gordon, a member of Zynga’s Board of Directors.

On the news, Zynga stock earned some much-needed relief from continuous selling. Shares spiked over 10 percent during trading hours on Monday, and then rose another 5.86 percent to $3.25 after hours.

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