Report: Xbox exec leaving Microsoft to head Zynga

Updated

Zynga may be getting a new CEO — Video game industry veteran Don Mattrick.

Mattrick has been the president of Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business, where he oversees the company’s video game efforts, including its Xbox game consoles. But All Things D reported Monday that he is leaving the company as is “close” to taking a top job at Zynga.

Once the dominant social gaming company, Zynga has been struggling for more than a year. Numerous top executives have departed as the company has posted falling sales, disappointing earnings, two mass layoffs and a plunging stock price.

The company got some more bad news on Monday, when Eilers Research reported that Zynga has slipped to second place in the social casino gaming market thanks to the decline of Zynga Poker and the growing popularity of games from Caeser’s Interactive Entertainment, the online arm of real-world gambling giant Caeser’s.

Investors, though, seemed to focus on the possibility that it might bring Mattrick on board. In recent trading, Zynga shares were up 33 cents, 0r nearly 12 percent, to $3.11.

Mattrick oversaw the transformation of Microsoft’s Xbox division from a chronic money loser into a successful business. The company’s Xbox 360 console has been the top-selling game machine in the United States for more than two years.

In May, Mattrick and Microsoft unveiled the company’s next generation console, the Xbox One. Although initial reviews were favorable, many gamers objected to Microsoft’s apparent efforts to curtail the used game market on the new console. The company and Mattrick quickly backtracked on its objectionable policies.

Mattrick joined Microsoft in 2007. Prior to that, he worked for Electronic Arts for 15 years, rising to the rank of president.

Update: A Zynga representative declined to comment on the report. Microsoft representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Update 2: A Microsoft representative also declined to comment on the report.

Update 3: Zynga confirmed the report after the close of regular trading today.l

Photo of Dan Mattrick, courtesy of Microsoft.

Troy Wolverton Troy Wolverton (225 Posts)

Troy writes the Tech Files column as the Personal Technology Columnist at the San Jose Mercury News. He also covers the digital media, mobile and video game industries and writes occasionally about Apple, chips, social networking and other aspects of technology. Previously, Troy covered Apple and the consumer electronics industry. Prior to joining the Mercury News, Troy reported on technology, business and financial issues for TheStreet.com and CNET News.com.