He's not heading out to pasture, but the CEO of "FarmVille" maker Zynga Inc. is stepping aside as the troubled online gaming company looks to revive itself and lift its stalled stock price.
Mark Pincus will be replaced July 8 by Don Mattrick, who was most recently head of Microsoft's Xbox division. Zynga said Monday that Pincus, who founded Zynga Inc. and named it after his American bulldog in 2007, will stay on as chairman and chief product officer.
Mattrick, 49, had served as the president of Microsoft's entertainment business, which includes the Xbox, since 2010. He had been with Microsoft for six years, helping to launch the Kinect motion controller. He also helped grow the Xbox Live online service from 6 million members to 48 million in roughly six years.
In a note to Zynga employees, Pincus said he's always told the company's 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."
Mattrick faces a difficult task. Zynga's stock is down almost 70 percent since the company's 2011 initial public offering at $10 per share. Its games have waned in popularity, and in June, the company announced that it was cutting 520 jobs, or about 18 percent of its workforce, to save money.
Zynga's "FarmVille" became a household name in 2009 as millions of Facebook users spent hours clicking on virtual cows and crops — and spent real money to get ahead in the game.
Besides rival Facebook diversions, Zynga also faces stiff competition from games played on mobile devices.
Pincus believes his successor is up to the job. In a statement, he praised Mattrick as "one of the top executives in the overall entertainment business."
"He turned Xbox into the world's largest console-gaming network, growing its installed base from 10 [million] to 80 million and transformed that business from deep losses to substantial profits. And he has grown the Xbox Live player network from 6 (million) to 50 million active members in 41 countries," Pincus said.