Mark Pincus to Hand Over Zynga CEO Spot to Don Mattrick

Zynga, the company that was once practically synonymous with social gaming yet has seen its stock tumble over the last year or so, announced that its founding chief executive officer, Mark Pincus, will be stepping down. He will be replaced by Don Mattrick, who has most recently worked for Microsoft as head of the Xbox division of the company.

California-based Zynga is perhaps best-known for its massive hit FarmVille, a game that largely defined social gaming on Facebook.

Company has suffered precipitous decline since 2011 IPO

Zynga, which went public at the end of 2011, has seen its stock price decline by roughly 70 percent since then. Zynga’s descent has largely been attributed to the fact that it has yet to become a strong contender in the mobile games market.

While Mattrick has an enormous amount of experience in the world of video games, having begun his career by selling a start-up company to Electronic Arts, some analysts question putting him at the helm of Zynga, a company that so desperately needs to gain a momentum in the mobile department.

Zynga board members, however, had only acclaim for Mattrick’s hiring.

“Don Mattrick joining Zynga as its CEO is a spectacular coup for the company, its shareholders and for Mark. There is not another executive in the world who could bring as much experience, knowledge and success in the gaming space. This is an incredible vote of confidence in the future prospects for Zynga. With Don as CEO, Mark will be free to focus his time developing transformative products for players,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation SKG, who sits on Zynga’s board.

Pincus remains majority shareholder 

Meanwhile, Pincus will remain the majority shareholder in Zynga, owning 61 percent of the company’s stock. For his part, he praised Mattrick as the best person to take the reins of the struggling company.

In a press release publicized on Monday, Pincus wrote, “Don is unique in the game business. 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.”

Pincus, a native of Chicago, Illinois, will retain a board position at Zynga and will also serve as its chief product officer. Last month, the company was forced to lay off about 20 percent of its staff, however Zynga is said to have about a billion dollars in cash on hand and therefore is hardly in danger of disappearing anytime soon, despite its well-publicized struggles breaking into the mobile market.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on,, and

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