Time to bid farewell as Don Mattrick leaves; is it the end of an era for Microsoft

If it hadn’t have happened in the next few weeks then it would have happened shortly after, but sadly for Don it was far too obvious that he was on the way out. Social gaming firm, Zynga (the founders of FarmVille and others) have appointed Don Mattrick as new CEO of the company and has welcomed the ex-veteran of Microsoft with open arms.


Mark Pincus, the founder of the smaller firm, said in an announcement that he would stay on as Chairman and Chief Product Officer. Zynga was founded in 2007 and was bolstered at the arrival of smartphones and embraced the mobile gaming revolution with famous iOS and Android apps such as FarmVille, Zynga Poker and ChefVille. Zynga focuses on the social aspect of gaming and houses its main desktop presence amongst the pages of Facebook and encourages users to   interact through the network to share achievements, prizes and experience.

Zynga has had a rough time in its minimal 6 years existence, the advertising scam of 2009 left the company in a bad position, with poor customer relations. Further lawsuits and scams have forced Zynga to become a more open and innovative company and is slowly regaining the trust of public and gamers. Despite this Zynga is pushing forward and isn’t slowing down – the small corporate company is now a major player for mobile gaming and is among the most popular on the iOS App Store and Facebook. In the latest move Zynga has now appointed a new CEO to lead the company towards more success and hopefully develop their projects beyond mobile ‘gimmicks’.

Pincus said, whilst reassuring employees he would still play a role in Zynga: “I realize that I’ve had the greatest impact working as an entrepreneur,”

During a press release via Zynga’s social blog Pincus said that he was “excited” to be working with Don Mattrick as CEO and hoped that they could bring together the market through “unique” experience. During a private email to employees Pincus later said

“I’m confident that Don is that leader”

Don Mattrick, 49, who had previously been Microsoft’s President of Interactive Entertainment Business and oversaw the management of some of the biggest consoles in history. Prior to work at Microsoft he had held high roles at the loved gaming firm, EA and had worked internationally to achieve a new status for interactive entertainment. Now as Don Mattrick leaves Microsoft we can look at what he has really brought to the industry and the knowledge he could pass on. Following his arrival at Zynga, the firms all time low stocks, rocketed sky high at the news.

During his time at Microsoft and overseeing the management of the XBOX, Mattrick had been a key player in the companies position on charging gamers for online services. That said Mattrick can be held partially responsible for the success of the console despite the list of charges. After his arrival at Microsoft XBOX 360 user base grew from 10 million to over 80 million and Mattrick continued to see the console as more than a gaming device.


Don Mattrick has been a game changer (pardon the pun) amongst the interactive industry. He was named amongst the top smartest people in 2011 and has foreseen that consoles should be more than a box to game on. Mattrick pushed heavily for the implementation of Kinect in 2010 and worked the accessory into the Guinness World Records book for the fastest selling consumer electronic. His vision had been that the interactive industry should not solely rely on the sales of games. His role allowed him to collate the entirety of Microsofts entertainment industry, PC gaming and other platforms. Throughout his time at Microsoft it could be noted that more and more of their services were becoming intertwined and collaborative. XBOX became not just a console but a brand, a label that all of their entertainment would fall under. XBOX Music, XBOX Video and other services became available on all devices and embraced the touch screen revolution. This was clever structuring, that gave Microsoft a solid move in the industry.

In their latest launch of XBOX One at E3 Microsoft failed to impress. The launch of the console left gamers restricted and limited. The online requirements and used game limits were a money making scheme too far. Mattrick likely believed that they could have furthered their lead from Sony. But this wasn’t the case, gamers didn’t like it and now Microsoft have had to make a u-turn. Mattrick and his team instigated the move and now it has died. Mattrick had been a force of innovation in the market and now will be sat twiddling his thumbs at Zynga.

It isn’t the last we will see of him and we can be sure that he will continue to push the market to evolve. Without visionaries and thinkers markets will stall. We can thank him for the success of XBOX and the services they brought, but now it seems a new generation of the console will be soon launched and a new manager and direction is needed to avoid past mistakes.