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PopCap co-founder John Vechey leaves studio

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John Vechey, one of the three co-founders of Bejeweled and Plants vs. Zombies developer PopCap Games, is leaving the company, parent company Electronic Arts announced today.

In a memo to PopCap employees published to EA's The Beat blog, Vechey said a sabbatical from the studio allowed him to "take a step back to appreciate what I have in life, and what the future has in store." Vechey says he's leaving to focus on nonprofit work.

"Many of you know me as the energetic, happy-go-lucky founder of PopCap, and I want to use that energy to give something back for awhile until I figure out what's next," Vechey said. "I will be spending some time working with environmental news non-profit Grist.org, of which I am a board member. I'll be taking some non-violence workshops, furthering some of the things I've learned from being part of the Quaker community, while I explore peace and social justice issues, such as war abolition, prison reform, poverty and the effects of race and gender privilege.

"And after that? Who knows what the future will hold. Maybe I'll stick with non-profit work, maybe start a new company, or maybe join a bigger one. For now, I'm going to focus on getting some space, so I can appreciate the last fifteen years."

"John leaves PopCap in deeply capable hands," said EA Mobile president Frank Gibeau. "The PopCap mobile studio will continue to be led by Steve Mauri, Cara Ely and Jon David, and the teams are already pushing forward into exciting directions. We have games in the pipeline including an all-new Peggle, new concepts coming through rapid development at PopLabs, and global opportunties [sic] for PopCap brands like PvZ. PopCap continues to be a core studio in EA's mobile efforts, and I know our players will be thrilled with what's to come from this talented group."

Vechey co-founded PopCap Games in 2000 with Brian Fiete and Jason Kapalka, who are also no longer with the company. In January, Vechey took over for retired CEO Dave Roberts, who left PopCap earlier this year.

EA acquired PopCap Games in 2011 as part of a $750 million deal.