(Corrects share movement to "up" in 1st paragraph)
By Malathi Nayak and Bill Rigby
SAN FRANCISCO, July 1 Games publisher Zynga Inc
could replace its chief executive Mark Pincus with
Microsoft Corp executive Don Mattrick, possibly as
early as late Monday, according to a report by AllThingsD that
sent Zynga shares up more than 10 percent.
Mattrick, who heads Microsoft's critical Xbox business as
the company's president of interactive entertainment, could
leave Microsoft to join Zynga, possibly as its CEO and is
"working in close partnership with its founder and current CEO
Mark Pincus," according to AllThingsD, citing multiple unnamed
Zynga and Microsoft declined to comment on the report.
Pincus, 47, controls a 61 percent voting stake in the gaming
company he founded in 2007, according to financial filings from
March, and he would have final say over his company's
Zynga's business model, which relied heavily on selling
virtual goods to gamers on Facebook Inc's platform, began
to disintegrate a year ago as users tired of Facebook games.
Pincus has been unable to turn around the company named after
his pet bulldog, Zinga.
The company's shares have hovered at just 25 percent of its
$10 price at the company's initial offering price in December
Mattrick joined Microsoft in 2007 after spending years at
Electronic Arts. He helped turn the Xbox business into a
profitable venture after years of losses, eventually propelling
it into the No.1 selling console in the United States.
Zynga shares were up around 10.5 percent at $3.07 in
afternoon trading on the Nasdaq.
Mattrick's departure would come just as Microsoft gears up
to launch the third version of its console, called the Xbox One.
Unveiled in May and scheduled to hit stores later this year, the
machine has already stirred up controversy.
Gamers attacked the high price tag, Microsoft's plan to
require an Internet connection at least once a day and moves to
limit sharing of used games. Last month, Microsoft reversed its
position on the Internet connection and said it would allow game
If his appointment is confirmed, Mattrick would join a game
maker that publishes social media-based titles and low
production-value smartphone games - a departure from the world
of big-budget, traditional packaged games embodied by the Xbox.
Mattrick has been rumored to depart for months. After EA's
CEO stepped down in March, industry sources have speculated that
he was in the running to lead the top games publisher, where he
previously held numerous leadership roles.
(Reporting by Malathi Nayak, Gerry Shih and Alexei Oreskovic in
San Francisco and Bill Rigby in Seattle. Editing by Andre