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Zynga founder Mark Pincus steps down as chief product officer amid executive shuffle

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Mark Pincus, the co-founder and former CEO of social game maker Zynga, is making another transition at the company, leaving his role as chief product officer to focus on serving as chairman of Zynga's board of directors. Pincus' role change is just one of many happening at Zynga, according to a note from current CEO Don Mattrick.

In a letter to employees, Mattrick said he and Pincus "will continue to be close partners and work together" to lead Zynga. Pincus stepped down as CEO last year when Zynga brought Mattrick on board.

Mattrick also announced a handful of new hires and new appointments, including Alex Garden, former general manager of Xbox Live and Xbox Music at Microsoft. Garden, who was previously CEO at Nexon Publishing North Ameica and founded Relic Entertainment, will serve as president of Zynga Studios and report to Mattrick.

Executive vice president of games Steve Chiang will leave Zynga after four years at the company, Mattrick said, and other executives will transition to new roles. Henry LaBounta, previously of Electronic Arts and Microsoft Studios, is Zynga's new chief visual officer and Jennifer Nuckles has been named chief marketing officer. Nuckles most recently served as chief marketing officer of Plum District, an e-commerce platform for women.

"These organizational changes are critical to help us execute more nimbly against our strategic frame of grow and sustain, create new hits and drive efficiencies," Mattrick said. "As we grow our culture of innovation, I am confident that these leaders will strengthen our creative and technical capabilities as well as nurture and mentor our existing teams."

Earlier this month, Zynga named former Best Buy executive David Lee as chief financial officer, replacing outgoing executive Mark Vranesh.

In a memo from Pincus to employees, published by Recode, Zynga's outgoing chief product officer says that even though he's no longer serving in an operating role, he remains the company's "largest shareholder and biggest believer."

"I'm confident that Don, along with our amazing creative and technical product leaders will continue to focus on innovating in social gaming, driving mobile growth and building out our strong franchises — FarmVille, Words With Friends and Zynga Poker, as well as inventing new brands that will delight and connect more players," Pincus wrote. "Their leadership skills combined with your passion and inspired work will take Zynga to our next chapter of growth, as we pursue our mission of connecting the world through games."

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