Games firm Zynga snatches X-box chief from Microsoft as CEO; Pincus hands over the reins

Troubled games maker Zynga has a new boss. Don Mattrick, head of Microsoft's Xbox game console division, is replacing Mark Pincus as CEO from July 8

Mattrick: A key capture for Zynga?

Pincus is giving up the reins to save to company he founded.

He will remain as Zynga's chairman and chief product officer, said the Wall Street Journal. He and Mr. Mattrick will jointly report directly to the board and will form a new executive committee to help manage the company's operations.

"Don is unique in the game business," said Pincus in a statement. "He can execute in multiple domains—hardware, software and network."

People briefed on the matter told All Things Digital he been in talks to join Zynga for some time.

Shares of Zynga surged 10% to $3.09 on reports that Pincus was prepared to hand over the reins .

That’s still down around 60 percent since its late 2011 public offering - but it's certainly encouraging. At one point they stood at $15

Pincus has spent more than a year trying to restructure Zynga, which first became know for its FarmVille presence on Facebook, around mobile. But Zynga’s progress hasn’t been enough to outweigh erosion in its desktokp business, said the WSJ.

In early June, the company cut 18% of its work force and closed offices in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas.

Mattrick’s move was first reported by All Things Digital, which quoted sources saying the announcement could be made as soon as the markets closed today.

"If it happens, the hire will be a massive one for Zynga, ," said All Things D. But it will be a big blow to Microsoft — which does not appear to have someone to replace Mattrick right now as the gaming product head." Other observers disagreed, saying that Mircrosoft had a lot of talent lined up.

Before the deal was done the two families got together - and Pincus and Mattrick went for a bike ride, as they discussed what a partnership could look like and how it would work, according to one source .

Mattrick joined Microsoft in 2007, after a long career in games. He started at Distinctive Software, which he founded when he was just 17 .The Canadian native has long wanted to move back to the Bay area, where he has a home, said sources.

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