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Don Mattrick Leaving Microsoft for Zynga; Will He Grow Company on Mobile?

Image: Don Mattrick Leaving Microsoft for Zynga; Will He Grow Company on Mobile?

By Megan Anderle   |   Tuesday, 02 Jul 2013 11:04 AM

Don Mattrick, president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business that centers on Xbox and all the software giant’s gaming and entertainment efforts, is leaving the company to become CEO of social gaming company Zynga, best known for creating “FarmVille" and "Words With Friends."

All Things D broke the news that Mattrick is leaving the lofty post for Zynga, which has been wrought with financial woes since its IPO in 2011. Mattrick has been reportedly working in close partnership with Zynga's founder and current CEO Mark Pincus.

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Zynga's games were popular on the Web and on Facebook, but the presence has waned since the company has been struggling on the mobile front.

The financial difficulties forced Zynga to lay off 18 percent of its workforce by August — 520 employees — in a bid to reduce costs and more drastically restructure its troubled business toward mobile, sources said. The cuts will save the company $80 million in staffing expenses, and the total reduction is estimated to be even larger, as the company's New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas offices are closing as well.

Pincus, who has held the top job there since Zynga's founding, is putting a lot of trust in Mattrick to revive the company by relinquishing his power.

Mattrick, who has held a series of leadership positions including several jobs at gaming giant Electronic Arts, was also reportedly pursued by EA to run the company, after the CEO was ousted a few months ago, All Things D reported.

There is a massive restructuring being mulled by CEO Steve Ballmer at Microsoft, and many top managers are concerned about their fate. But the restructuring isn't why Mattrick's is jumping ship; Mattrick and Pincus have been in talks for some time, sources told All Things D.

Mattrick joined Microsoft in 2007. His gaming career started when he founded Distinctive Software when he was 17 years old, which EA acquired.

Mattrick has had a lot of success at Microsoft.

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According to his company bio, “since Mattrick began overseeing the Xbox division, the Xbox 360 installed base grew from 10 million to nearly 80 million worldwide while Xbox Live membership increased from 6 million to nearly 50 million.”

Microsoft's Xbox One is the tech giant's most prized device, as it revolutionizes home entertainment by incorporating multiple technologies, including cable, DVR, gaming systems, and a Blu-ray player. Xbox One became available in November.

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