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Microsoft's head of Xbox leaves to become Zynga CEO

Replaces Mark Pincus to save the social gaming outfit's dwindling prospects
Tue Jul 02 2013, 11:06

SOFTWARE HOUSE Microsoft's head of Xbox has left the company to become the CEO of diminishing social gaming outfit Zynga, replacing its founder Mark Pincus.

Xbox console head Don Mattrick's seemingly strange decision to leave Microsoft for the struggling gaming company was announced in a statement issued after the stock markets closed on Monday. He will take his position at Zynga effective 8 July.

In a Zynga blog post entitled "excited to be here", the new CEO said, "I joined Zynga because I believe that Mark's pioneering vision and mission to connect the world through games is just getting started.

"As Mark was recruiting me to come here, I was impressed by his creativity, drive and the clarity in which he sees the future of games and entertainment as a core consumer experience."

Zynga's founder, chairman and chief product officer Pincus said in a statement, "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 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," Pincus added.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer wished Mattrick success in a letter to the firm's employees that has been published online, thanking him for "setting us on a path to completely redefine the entertainment industry".

Ballmer didn't announce how the Xbox One project will continue without Mattrick but said, "The strong leadership team at IEB and their teams are well positioned to deliver the next generation entertainment console... long into the future."

The news doesn't bode well for the future of the Xbox if the head of the project is jumping ship before it hits the shelves to become the CEO of a gaming outfit known for its recent decline in profits.

Zynga shed almost a fifth of its workforce last month as it tried to tackle its falling value. Recently, its financial results have not been so merry, and at its annual shareholders meeting it dropped a bombshell by saying that it will cut 520 jobs and close some offices.

In April, Zynga adjusted its financial results for the first quarter of 2013, and reported earnings of just one cent per share. Perhaps just as worryingly, Zynga's forecast also showed that the number of people playing its games each month dipped by 13 percent. µ


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