Zynga, seeking mobile turnaround, names Microsoft Xbox head as CEO

Microsoft executive Don Mattrick will become the next CEO of social gaming company Zynga. Previously, Mattrick headed up Microsoft’s Xbox business. Zynga, which created Facebook's popular game Farmville, has had a rough year, with massive layoffs, executive departures, and a sinking stock price.

So why move?

Ben Bajarin, a principal analyst at the firm Creative Strategies, says Zynga might be better situated to take on the next big thing in gaming: mobile. 

"That could be a challenge that Mattrick wants to tackle with Zynga as they look to become more of a mobile gaming platform company," he says. Bajarin notes there's another incentive for Mattrick to head to Zynga: it's good to be the king. Even if Zynga's kingdom has been struggling, it's a title bump he likely would not see anytime soon at Microsoft.

Mattrick has a track record when it comes to turning things around. When he started at Xbox in 2007, Microsoft's gaming console was a money pit. But Mattrick has helped flip that narrative.

"[It's] almost 30 quarters now of Xbox being the number one selling console on the market," Bajarin says. "What's gone on under his leadership at the Xbox group has been one of the more positive stories within Microsoft over the past few years."

Though Bajarin says whether or not Mattrick can help change Zynga's luck is still a big question.

About the author

Ben Johnson is the host of Marketplace Tech.

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