Microsoft's Don Mattrick Headed to Zynga, Stock Surges

Paul Lilly

Zynga's getting a new chief

Usually it takes some time before Internet rumors are either confirmed or debunked. Not so with the news that Microsoft's Don Mattrick would be jumping ship and swimming over to Zynga to assume a high level position with the social game maker. Following unofficial reports of Mattrick's move, Zynga has now confirmed that the former president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment division is joining Zynga as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Mattrick replaces Zynga founder Mark Pincus as the company's new chief, news of which sent Zynga's stock surging. Company stock rose more than 12 percent after it was rumored Mattrick would be stepping in, and is up around 23 percent since he was officially named CEO.

"Don is unique in the game business," Pincus said in a 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."

Pincus added that going forward, he'll continue in his role as Chairman and Chief Product Officer, but is more than happy to concede his position as CEO to Mattrick, who spent the last six years at Microsoft. His challenge will be to turn around a company that was once on top of the social game world but has had trouble maintaining its success.

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