Updated: It has now been confirmed that Don Mattrick is to be the new CEO of Zynga, replacing Mark Pincus who will stay on as chairman of the board and take on the job of chief product officer.
Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, has sent out a letter to employees acknowledging Mattrick's departure. The full transcript is at the bottom of the page.
Don Mattrick, the head of Microsoft's entertainment - i.e. Xbox - division is reportedly set to leave the company to take up a senior role at online games company Zynga.
The news follows a string of PR disasters for both Mattrick - as the face of the Xbox One
launch - and Microsoft, after the Xbox One was revealed with a raft of unpopular features.
Such was the backlash against the device that a couple of weeks after its reveal Mattrick took to the official Xbox blog
to announce Microsoft would be scrapping many of the controversial features.
However, it is as yet unclear whether Mattrick is leaving because of these issues or if it is simply the next logical step for his career. According to the sources that talked to AllThingsD
he could be taking up a position as CEO of Zynga, which would certainly suggest that company is confident in his abilities.
Mattrick has also apparently been on the short list of top execs being considered for the top job at Electronic Arts (EA), the company he previously left to join Microsoft. Both EA and Zynga have had their own issues recently with Zynga loosing value after its IPO and EA struggling to return to profit so both would be prime candidates for Mattrick to sweep in and turn around their fortunes.
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.