In a move that practically no one saw coming, the head of Microsoft’s Xbox department Don Mattrick is jumping ship in a bid to land on sturdier footing known as… Zynga?
Yes, the mobile gaming company announced earlier today that Mattrick, 49, was unanimously approved by the Zynga Board of Directors to become the struggling company’s CEO.
“I joined Zynga because I believe that Mark’s pioneering vision and mission to connect the world through games is just getting started. Zynga is a great business that has yet to realize its full potential,” Mattrick said. “I’m proud to partner with Mark to deliver high-quality, fun, social games wherever people want to play.”
Starting July 8, Mattrick will replace Mark Pincus as Zynga CEO and join the company’s board. Pincus, however, will remain as the Chairman of the Board of Directors and the Chief Product Officer of the Company.
“Don is unique in the game business,” Pincus said in a press release. “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. He’s one of the top executives in the overall entertainment business and he’s a great coach who has inspired people to do their best work and build strong, productive teams.”
Both Zynga and Mattrick have seen better days, as the former has shuttered studios and laying off employees left and right, while the latter has had to deal with the enormous backlash from last month’s E3 and the policies surrounding the Xbox One.
Regardless, Mattrick’s career speaks for his success, having worked at Electronic Arts for 15 years as the president of EA’s Worldwide Studios before spending six years at Microsoft.
“As a founder, I know from experience that the right successor has the potential to massively accelerate the growth of a company. Don Mattrick’s strong track record demonstrates that he can balance big picture vision with world-class execution,” Zynga Board of Director and Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of LinkedIn Corporation Reid Hoffman said. “His skills are highly complementary to Mark, and I look forward to seeing their partnership in action.”
Zynga will hold its first fiscal conference call with Mattrick at the helm on July 25 to discuss the second quarter.