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Xbox chief Don Mattrick leaves Microsoft for struggling Zynga

Zynga has confirmed that Don Mattrick will leave Microsoft to become the gaming firm's new CEO.

In a note to Zynga employees, current CEO and chief product officer Mark Pincus said that Mattrick will officially join Zynga next week, but will be present at an all-hands meeting at Zynga headquarters this week to answer questions.

In reflecting on his time at Zynga, Pincus said that "I realise that I've had the greatest impact working as an entrepreneur with product teams, developing games that could entertain and connect millions."

"I've always said to Bing and our Board that if I could find someone who could do a better job as our CEO I'd do all I could to recruit and bring that person in. I'm confident that Don is that leader," Pincus said.

Pincus will remain chief product officer and chairman of the board.

In a letter to employees, Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer said "this is a great opportunity for Don, and I wish him success."

For now, those who reported to Mattrick will report to Ballmer, "and will continue to drive the day-to-day business as a team, particularly focused on shipping Xbox One this holiday."

Mattrick will be taking over a struggling company, which recently laid off 18 per cent of its staff. That was just the latest in a slew of layoffs, however, beginning with October's cut of more than 100 employees from the Austin office — most of whom were responsible for The Ville and Zynga Bingo.

In December, meanwhile, the Japanese arm of the company confirmed that it would close its doors at the end of January, after only two years in operation. That month, the firm also cut 11 of its popular online games, including PetVille, Mafia Wars 2, and Treasure Isle.

Mattrick, who joined Redmond in 2007, took control of Microsoft's interactive entertainment business in 2010 following the departure of Robbie Bach. He has been responsible for Xbox 360, Xbox Live, Kinect, Zune Music and Video, and Mediaroom, as well as the PC and mobile interactive entertainment divisions.