[Update] Don Mattrick Joining Zynga As CEO
Update #2: Game Informer has been provided with the text of an internal email sent from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to all company employes. Interestingly, there is no replacement and Steve Ballmer's note about handling the day-to-day business does not sound temporary.
Zynga announced today that Don Mattrick would be its new CEO, effective July 8. This is a great opportunity for Don, and I wish him success. Don’s directs will report to me and will continue to drive the day-to-day business as a team, particularly focused on shipping Xbox One this holiday.
Since joining IEB more than six years ago, Don and his team have accomplished much. Xbox Live members grew from 6 million to 48 million. Xbox 360 became the No. 1 selling console in North America the past two years. We introduced Kinect and have sold more than 24 million sensors. We released fantastic games, and, most importantly, we expanded Xbox to go beyond great gaming to deliver all the entertainment people want — sports, music, movies, live television and much more.
In the past month, the IEB team showed for the first time here on our Redmond campus, and again at E3, how we are going to continue to transform entertainment with Xbox One. I am incredibly proud of the work and vision culminating in Xbox One.
I’m particularly excited about how Xbox pushes forward our devices and services transformation by bringing together the best of Microsoft. The consoles are incredible all-in-one devices with built-in services that consumers love, including Bing, Xbox Live, Internet Explorer, SkyDrive and Skype. And, just as important, Xbox Games, Xbox Video, Xbox Music and SmartGlass light up Windows PCs, tablets and phones.
Thank you, Don, for setting us on a path to completely redefine the entertainment industry. The strong leadership team at IEB and their teams are well positioned to deliver the next-generation entertainment console, as well as transformative entertainment experiences, long into the future.
Update #1: Zynga has confirmed that Don Mattrick, now former president of Microsoft's interactive entertainment business, is coming aboard as the company's new CEO.
On Monday, Mattrick will take over the reigns as founder Mark Pincus abdicates that role, but remains as chariman of the board and chief product officer. Mattrick will report to the board, who approved his hiring unanimously. He and Pincus will be part of a new executive committee that will manage broader operations between board meetings.
Microsoft has not yet responded to our request for comment.
Since the Xbox One was announced in late May, buzz for the console has been mired with troubled communications. First there was the reversal on DRM and online connectivity. Last week saw the headset double step. And now, Don Mattrick, president of Microsoft's interactive entertainment business, is reportedly leaving to take a top position at Zynga.
All Things D is reporting that Mattrick's appointment could come as soon as the financial markets close today. Mattrick has been at the center of some of Microsoft's biggest Xbox One missteps, including suggesting that people who can't connect to the Internet purchase an Xbox 360 instead and that the Xbox One offers "thousands of dollars of value."
Zynga has seen its own exodus of personnel both before and after cutting 520 jobs last month. We've reached out to Microsoft and Zynga for comment. At the time of publication, Microsoft has yet to respond and Zynga declined to comment.
[Source: All Things D]
It's going to be impossible for Mattrick to shake the perception that his recent missteps are why he's leaving the Xbox One team. It would behoove Microsoft to put Phil Spencer (whom Andy Reiner and I interviewed at E3) forward as the face of Xbox One. Spencer is likable, a gamer, knows how to stay on message, and is adept at speaking with the media.
It's also known that Mattrick was champion of Kinect on the business side. With him possibly leaving, we're left to wonder if Microsoft is about to make one final reversal on mandatory Kinect (and thereby narrow the price gap with PlayStation 4).