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Zynga's Pincus steps down as CEO, succeeded by Microsoft Xbox exec

Gaming IndustryBusinessEntertainmentZynga Inc.GamingTechnology IndustryXbox

Mark Pincus is stepping down as chief executive of Zynga Inc., the social video game company he founded, and will be replaced by Don Mattrick, the head of Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox business, the company said Monday.

Zynga's stock surged on word of the change in leadership.

Mattrick, who will take over as CEO of San Francisco-based Zynga on July 8, has been president of Microsoft's interactive entertainment business, where he oversaw the growth of the Xbox 360 console. 

Best known for games such as "Farmville" and "Words with Friends," Zynga has struggled to repeat the success of its early games as its users play more on mobile devices rather than on Facebook.

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About a month ago, Zynga announced it would lay off 18% of its staff, or 520 workers, as part of an effort to save up to $80 million. 

Pincus will remain Zynga's chairman and chief product officer. In Zynga's announcement Monday, issued after the close of regular stock trading, Pincus praised Mattrick's credentials in the gaming and entertainment industry.

"He deeply understands the value of a network and the importance of creating lifelong consumer relationships," Pincus said. "He turned Xbox into the world's largest console-gaming network, growing its installed base from 10 to 80 million and transformed that business from deep losses to substantial profits."

Mattrick will become a member of Zynga's board and will join Pincus in a newly formed executive committee to manage the operations and affairs of the company, Zynga said.

Speculation on Monday about a management change sent Zynga's stock up 29 cents, or 10%, to $3.07 during the stock market's regular session. The shares jumped further in after-hours trading, climbing as high as $3.27.

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ryan.faughnder@latimes.com

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Gaming IndustryBusinessEntertainmentZynga Inc.GamingTechnology IndustryXbox
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