Don Mattrick leaves Xbox for Zynga

In news that has stunned the gaming community, Zynga founder Mark Pincus has stepped down as company CEO. As if that wasn’t unexpected enough, the company has already announced his replacement: Don Mattrick, former president of worldwide studios at EA and -until recently- head of Microsoft‘s Interactive Entertainment Business.

Mark Pincus and Don Mattrick at Zynga

Mark Pincus and Don Mattrick at Zynga

Pincus tells employees that

I’ve always said … 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.

Pincus hails Mattrick as “the person responsible” for franchises like The Sims, FIFA and Need for Speed.

The former Microsoft head honcho is a familiar face to many gamers, speaking at expos and conventions around the world. Mattrick explains:

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.

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, shared the news with employees:

This is a great opportunity for Don, and I wish him success. Don’s directs will report to me and will continue to drive the day-to-day business as a team, particularly focused on shipping Xbox One this holiday…Thank you, Don, for setting us on a path to completely redefine the entertainment industry. The strong leadership team at [Interactive Entertainment Business] and their teams are well positioned to deliver the next-generation entertainment console, as well as transformative entertainment experiences, long into the future.

As part of his dedication to completely revamping the company he helped create, Pincus is now Chairman of the Board and Chief Product Officer at Zynga. There have been no names put forward publicly as Mattrick’s potential replacement.

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