Following a report earlier today that Xbox head Don Mattrick had parted ways with Microsoft to join game publisher Zynga, both companies have confirmed this is indeed the case. What follows is an e-mail Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer sent out to employees regarding leadership changes to the company’s Interactive Entertainment Business group:
From: Steve Ballmer
Sent: Monday, July 1, 2013
To: Microsoft – All Employees
Subject: Don Mattrick’s Next Chapter
Zynga announced today that Don Mattrick would be its new CEO, effective July 8. This is a great opportunity for Don, and I wish him success. Don’s directs will report to me and will continue to drive the day-to-day business as a team, particularly focused on shipping Xbox One this holiday.
Since joining IEB more than six years ago, Don and his team have accomplished much. Xbox Live members grew from 6 million to 48 million. Xbox 360 became the No. 1 selling console in North America the past two years. We introduced Kinect and have sold more than 24 million sensors. We released fantastic games, and, most importantly, we expanded Xbox to go beyond great gaming to deliver all the entertainment people want — sports, music, movies, live television and much more.
In the past month, the IEB team showed for the first time here on our Redmond campus, and again at E3, how we are going to continue to transform entertainment with Xbox One. I am incredibly proud of the work and vision culminating in Xbox One.
I’m particularly excited about how Xbox pushes forward our devices and services transformation by bringing together the best of Microsoft. The consoles are incredible all-in-one devices with built-in services that consumers love, including Bing, Xbox Live, Internet Explorer, SkyDrive and Skype. And, just as important, Xbox Games, Xbox Video, Xbox Music and SmartGlass light up Windows PCs, tablets and phones.
Thank you, Don, for setting us on a path to completely redefine the entertainment industry. The strong leadership team at IEB and their teams are well positioned to deliver the next-generation entertainment console, as well as transformative entertainment experiences, long into the future.
Mattrick will be taking over as Zynga’s CEO, while former CEO and co-founder Mark Pincus will now be the company’s Chief Product Officer and also remain on as Chairman of the board. Said Pincus to Zynga employees:
Today is a big day. I’m excited to announce that Don Mattrick will be joining us as Zynga’s new CEO and member of our Board. I wanted to let you all know why I made the decision to recruit Don and what I think it means for all of us.
Over the last few months I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about all that we have achieved together as a company. We have pioneered social gaming and helped make Play a core part of millions of people’s lives. But Zynga has so much more potential ahead, the opportunity to be an Internet Treasure and deliver on our mission of connecting the world through games.
As I reflect on the past six years, I realize that I’ve had the greatest impact working as an entrepreneur with product teams, developing games that could entertain and connect millions.
I’ve always said to Bing and our Board that if I could find someone who could do a better job as our CEO I’d do all I could to recruit and bring that person in. I’m confident that Don is that leader.
At the age of 17, Mattrick founded Distinctive Software, Inc., which was acquired by Electronic Arts in 1991. Prior to joining Microsoft, Mattrick served as the President of Worldwide Studios at EA.