Pincus pursued Xbox chief for several months for Zynga CEO job, source says

The two have known each other for years and there was no formal candidate search, the source said

By Zach Miners, IDG News Service |  Software

Zynga CEO Mark Pincus pursued Microsoft's Xbox chief for several months and had no other candidates in mind for the top job at the social games company, a source at Zynga said Monday.

The disclosure shines some light on the process behind the hiring of Don Mattrick, who stepped down as head of Microsoft's Xbox division on Monday to be the new CEO of Zynga. Pincus remains at the company as chairman and chief product officer.

Mattrick was the only candidate for the job and Pincus recruited him for several months for the position, the source said, adding that the two have known each other for years.

The hiring proposal was presented to the board by Pincus and there was no formal candidate search, said the source.

"I joined Zynga because I believe that Mark's pioneering vision and mission to connect the world through games is just getting started," Mattrick said in a blog post Monday afternoon following Zynga's original announcement of the management changes.

"As Mark was recruiting me to come here, I was impressed by his creativity, drive and the clarity in which he sees the future of games and entertainment as a core consumer experience," he said.

Mattrick, who officially starts at Zynga next week, is leaving his job as president of Microsoft's interactive entertainment business, where he helped to drive development and marketing of the Xbox One, Xbox 360, Xbox Live and Kinect, as well as PC and mobile products. He joined Microsoft in 2007.

Mattrick is credited for his role in developing the "FIFA," "Harry Potter" and "The Sims" game franchises, and for growing Xbox Live members from 6 million to 48 million.

Before Microsoft, Mattrick worked at Electronic Arts, most recently as president of the game publisher's worldwide studios. At 17, Mattrick founded the company Distinctive Software, which was acquired by EA in 1991.

Pincus said Monday that he would be stepping down as CEO of Zynga, in a letter to employees posted on the Web.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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