Former Xbox head Don Mattrick leaves Zynga

April 9, 2015 | 12:21

Tags: #casual-gaming #don-mattrick #farmville #financial #social-gaming #xbox-one

Companies: #zynga

Casual gaming giant Zynga has announced the departure of chief executive officer Don Mattrick, just two years after leaving Microsoft's Xbox division for the role.

Best known for his divisive work on the Xbox One launch, Mattrick left Microsoft in July 2013 to take on the role of chief executive of casual gaming company Zynga. He took over from Mark Pincus, the founder of the company, who remained on as board chair and chief product officer. The move was celebrated by Zynga as the next major move in its expansion, but just two years later Mattrick is on the move again - and Pincus is back at the helm.

'Don is departing the company and I am returning to Zynga as CEO effective immediately,' Pincus wrote in a memo to staff this week. 'I want to thank Don for his incredible efforts and leadership. He has laid groundwork that will benefit our players and company into the future.' That groundwork, Pincus went on to claim, led to a growth in bookings in the mobile market from 27 per cent to 60 per cent by the end of last year - a result of a shift from Zynga's original focus of Facebook games to a mobile-first focus.

While Pincus has sung Mattrick's praises and described the departure as mutually agreed, there's been no statement as to what prompted the shift - especially if Mattrick's leadership, which saw the majority of the executive team replaced, was working so well. The uncertainty has investors worried: since the announcement was made late yesterday, Zynga stock has plummeted 11.38 per cent in pre-market trading, lopping nearly $300 million from the company's market capitalisation.

'I am returning to the company that I love in order to accelerate innovation in the most popular categories like Action Strategy and strengthen our focus on our core areas like Invest and Express,' Pincus wrote of his return to the role of chief executive. 'I look forward to partnering with our leaders to intensify our focus on social experiences for the millions of consumers who play our games.'
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