Microsoft Loses Prominent Executive to Zynga

Dennis Faas's picture

One of Microsoft's leading executives has been acquired by a social media game company. Don Mattrick, who until recently headed Microsoft's Xbox division, will receive a $5 million signing bonus and stock awards totaling $40 million from Zynga.

The 49-year-old Mattrick has been a major presence in the video game industry for many years now. He started his own game company at the age of 17 and subsequently sold the firm to Electronic Arts, where he worked until 2007.

Xbox One Mired in Controversy

Mattrick then made the jump to Microsoft, where he became a Senior Vice President and oversaw the development of products for the Xbox 360 video game console. (Source:

Recently, he made headlines by unveiling Microsoft's next console, the Xbox One. Mattrick then faced a firestorm of criticism dealing with policies that would have seen Microsoft collect a fee every time a gamer tried to play a used Xbox One game.

It's unclear if this experience contributed to Mattrick's decision to leave Microsoft. There's no doubt the money offered by Zynga -- which is best known for its Facebook game 'FarmVille' -- helped convince the British Columbia native to make the leap.

In addition to his substantial signing bonus, Mattrick will also receive a $1 million annual salary with an additional guaranteed bonus of $1 million in 2013. (Source:

Mattrick will become Zynga's chief executive officer, replacing the firm's co-founder, Mark Pincus, in that role.

Larson-Green's Role Expands with Mattrick's Departure

Microsoft has announced that Mattrick will be replaced by Julie Larson-Green, who the firm brought in late last year to replace outgoing Windows chief, Steven Sinofsky.

Larson-Green will continue to work with the Windows team while also overseeing the development of Xbox products like the Xbox One (which is due for release later this year).

That leaves us with two big questions: 1) Can Mattrick help Zynga grow as a major gaming company in the social media universe?, and 2) Can Larson-Green handle two major divisions within Microsoft, or will this have a negative impact on the quality of Windows and Xbox products?

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