Former Xbox Chief Wanted to Buy Zynga Three Years Ago
July 8, 2013 10:22 AM
The idea was to give the Xbox more social gaming features
Microsoft's former Xbox head just
made the move to CEO of Zynga
last month, but as it turns out, he's been interested in the social gaming company for years.
Don Mattrick, the former president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, reportedly tried to buy Zynga back in 2010 to give the Xbox more social gaming features. Clearly, that never materialized, but Mattrick has kept a close eye on the company ever since.
Back when Mattrick was in discussions with Zynga for a possible purchase, the FarmVille creator was helping Facebook add "millions" of users to the social network, according to
. Mattrick thought such popular casual, social games could be added to the Xbox as well, since their popularity was exploding at the time.
However, Zynga has since fallen far from its former title as the king of Facebook gaming. Now, King.com is most popular for Facebook games, and Zynga has a list of problems on its hands.
The company has had troubles ever since its initial public offering (IPO) back in 2011. It filed its Form S-1 registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on July 1, 2011 and began trading December 16, 2011 at $10 per share. However, stock fell throughout 2012, hitting as low as $2.27 per share by October.
One of Zynga's core problems is that it's having a hard time taking on the mobile space. Its Web business has been declining faster than expected, and its mobile efforts aren't enough to fill the gap. Also, its
casual, social games
don't seem to have long-term viability. It has had to axe 18 games in recent months -- including PetVille, FishVille, Mafia Wars 2 and Vampire Wars -- due to reduced popularity (and to make room for new games).
Just last month, Zynga was forced to
lay off 18 percent of its workforce
(about 520 employees) by August 2013. The latest layoffs will affect all parts of the
social gaming company
, and it will even have to close its offices in Dallas, Los Angeles and New York. However, it will save the company about $70 million to $80 million.
But Mattrick, who has stayed in touch with former Zynga CEO Mark Pincus since those talks in 2010, stepped in as Zynga's CEO last month in an effort to turn the company back around. But he'll still have to ultimately answer to Pincus, who has 61 percent of voting power over the board and will continue forward as Zynga chairman and chief product officer.
Mattrick was lured in by healthy compensation, though. According to
, Mattrick will receive a $1 million salary, $5 million signing bonus, $25 million in restricted stock vesting over a three-year period, and additional shares worth $15 million.
Mattrick had worked for Microsoft since 2007, but at the end of his career with the company, he proved to be a bit of a controversial figure at the company. When gamers learned of the new Xbox console's -- Xbox One -- new "always-on" digital rights management (DRM) system, many expressed anger toward the idea. Not everyone has Internet access at all times, meaning that the new system would pose a problem for many gamers who are either in rural areas with slow connections, travelling or experience Internet issues with providers.
When gamers lashed out about the new always-on issue, Mattrick advised that they
don't buy an Xbox One
"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner
UPDATED: Microsoft's Xbox Head Leaving Company to be Zynga's CEO
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