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Zynga head Don Mattrick leaves company, founder Mark Pincus returns as CEO

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

Don Mattrick, the former Xbox executive who joined social game maker Zynga as CEO in 2013, has left the company, according to an official announcement.

Replacing him in the CEO role is Zynga founder Mark Pincus, who stepped down from that role when Mattrick came on to serve as chairman of the board and chief product officer. Pincus said in a memo to employees that he's taking on the role of CEO effectively immediately.

"Don joined us in a very important time in our evolution. I sincerely thank him for his leadership in better serving our players in a mobile first world and for delivering world class quality and value to our consumers," said Pincus in a release. "The team's hard work for our mobile players has resulted in bookings growing from 27% mobile bookings when Don joined to 60% by the end of last year. Further, to deliver unique and differentiated value to our mobile players, Don and the team acquired NaturalMotion. NaturalMotion has surprised and delighted the world with Clumsy Ninja and CSR Racing resulting in more than 160 million installs to date..."

Pincus continued, "Now that we are a mobile first company, it's time to renew our focus on our founding mission to connect the world through games and our vision to make play and social games a mass market activity."

Mattrick said in a statement that he's leaving Zynga to pursue a new challenge.

"When I joined the company in July 2013, Mark and I shared a vision of building a meaningful company that redefines entertainment in an increasingly mobile world," said Mattrick. "I am proud of the progress we have made together. I believe the timing is now right for me to leave as CEO and let Mark lead the company into its next chapter given his passion for the founding vision and his ability to couple our mobile progress with Zynga's unique strengths. As a company, Zynga is in a stronger position today to serve mobile consumers and take advantage of the unprecedented growth opportunity across our industry. I am excited about the company's trajectory and wish the best for Mark, Zynga and NaturalMotion as I plan to return to Canada to pursue my next challenge."

Prior to taking on the role of CEO at Zynga, Mattrick was president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, overseeing the company's Xbox division. Mattrick was at the forefront of the Xbox One's unveiling, its original controversial internet connection dependency and Microsoft's ensuing policy reversal. He left Microsoft to join Zynga in July 2013, prior to the Xbox One's launch, and was tasked with turning around the company's fortunes.

Zynga plans to announce its first quarter financial results on May 7. In February, the company posted a $45 million net loss for Zynga's fourth quarter, which ended Dec. 31, 2014.

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