Zynga snares Xbox boss Mattrick as CEO

Michael French
Zynga snares Xbox boss Mattrick as CEO

Zynga has confirmed that it has hired Xbox boss Don Mattrick as its new CEO.

Mattrick joins the firm next week on Monday, July 8th.

He takes the CEO role from Mark Pincus, the founder of Zynga - but Pincus (pictured above right with Mattrick) will remain deeply involved in the firm as chairman of the board and chief product officer at the firm.

“Don is unique in the game business,” said Mark Pincus, Founder, 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.’

"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. He deeply understands the value of a network and the importance of creating lifelong consumer relationships. He turned Xbox into the world’s largest console-gaming network, growing its installed base from 10 to 80 million and transformed that business from deep losses to substantial profits. And he has grown the Xbox Live player network from 6 to 50 million active members in 41 countries.

"Going forward, I’ll continue in my role as Chairman and Chief Product Officer. I’m excited to partner with Don and the rest of our team to return Zynga to its leadership role in inventing and growing Play as a core human experience.”

Despite a recent furore over the Xbox One strategy for game licensing and ownership - which Mattrick eventually rescinded - the Xbox leader's achievements are considerable.

At age 17 he founded the studio in Canada which would eventually become, after acquisition, EA Canada.

From there he became president of EA's worldwide studios, before leaving at 43 to join Microsoft. After three years he took over the wider Interactive Entertainment Business division, and was part of a team that grew the installed base to 75m 360s.

“In its short history, Zynga has redefined entertainment and brought social gaming to the mainstream. More than 1 billion people across web and mobile have installed Zynga games, and franchises like FarmVille and Words With Friends have become a part of people’s daily lives,” said Mattrick in today's official confirmation.

“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. I’m proud to partner with Mark to deliver high-quality, fun, social games wherever people want to play.”

Mattrick's appointment was voted unanimously by Zynga's board, the firm said this evening. He will join Pincus on a newly formed executive committee that will manage the firm. Zynga's stock price was up 10 per cent on the news - the firm has been struggling against stockholder scepticism after a series of restructures and arguably over-reaching acquisitons.

"Mark took the lead in working with the entire board to recruit Don to Zynga,” said John Doerr, Member of the Zynga Board of Directors and General Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. “All of us at Zynga – and no one more than Mark – are thrilled Don is joining our mission to connect the world through games. This is a win for the people who play our games, the talented employees who make them and the investors who believe in our long-term value. This also is a win for Mark, who can devote his full attention to conceiving and building the best social games in the world.”

Pincus told staff in a company memo we have copied in below:

To our Zynga employees, players and shareholders. 

Today is a big day.  I’m excited to announce that Don Mattrick will be joining us as Zynga’s new CEO and member of our Board. I wanted to let you all know why I made the decision to recruit Don and what I think it means for all of us.

Over the last few months I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about all that we have achieved together as a company.  We have pioneered social gaming and helped make Play a core part of millions of people’s lives.  But Zynga has so much more potential ahead, the opportunity to be an Internet Treasure and deliver on our mission of connecting the world through games.

As I reflect on the past six years, I realize that I’ve had the greatest impact working as an entrepreneur with product teams, developing games that could entertain and connect millions.

I’ve always said to Bing and our Board that if I could find someone who could do a better job as our CEO I’d do all I could to recruit and bring that person in. I’m confident that Don is that leader.

If you’re not familiar with Don, he’s an entertainment and game industry innovator who’s been making products and scaling teams and businesses for the last 30 years.  Don’s had major leadership roles at Microsoft, Electronic Arts and Distinctive Software, which he founded when he was 17 years old. 

Don is unique in the game business. 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. 

He deeply understands the value of a network and the importance of creating lifelong consumer relationships. He turned Xbox into the world’s largest console gaming network, growing its installed base from 10 to 80 million and transformed that business from deep losses to substantial profits.  And he has grown the Xbox Live player network from 6 to 50 million active members.

Going forward I’ll continue in my role as Chairman and Chief Product Officer.  I’m excited to partner with Don and the rest of our team to return Zynga to its leadership role in inventing and growing Play as a core human experience.

Advertisement

Tags: zynga , Xbox One , don mattrick , mattrick

Follow us on

  • RSS