Zynga appoints Xbox chief Don Mattrick as new CEO [UPDATED]

Xbox One Don Mattrick

UPDATE: Zynga now confirms that Don Mattrick, the now-former president of interactive business at Microsoft, joins the company on July 8, 2013 as CEO. Mattrick also takes a seat on the company’s board of directors, where he’ll work alongside founder Marc Pincus as he continues to serve in the roles of chairman of the board and chief product officer. Meanwhile, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will temporarily take over for Mattrick.

“Don is unique in the game business,” Pincus said in a prepared statement. “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.”

Mattrick came out with a prepared statement of his own. “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.”

“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.”

ORIGINAL POST: Microsoft president of interactive entertainment business Don Mattrick is leaving the company, according to “multiple sources close to the situation” speaking to AllThingsD. The sources also suggest that Mattrick is “close” to taking on a high-level position, possibly CEO, at Zynga. He may replace current CEO Mark Pincus, though it’s possible that the two will work together in “close partnership.”

The discussion between Mattrick and Zynga has apparently be ongoing for some time, though the sources say that the move – assuming it’s happening – has little or nothing to do with Steve Ballmer’s thoughts on restructuring Microsoft as a “devices and services company.” Mattrick is also said to be one of the candidates that Electronic Arts is eyeing for the vacated CEO seat that John Riccitiello stepped down from in March 2013.

Mattrick recently spearheaded the Xbox One reveal, appearing onstage both at the new console’s announcement in May and at the company’s E3 press conference in June. He directly addressed gamers’ concerns about a lack of games on the Xbox One, as well as the negative feedback regarding the console’s DRM policies. Meanwhile, Zynga is having a tough year, having had to shut down multiple games and studios and lay off nearly one-fifth of its employees

Digital Trends reached out to Microsoft for confirmation and comment, and this post will be updated accordingly once we’ve heard back. 

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