Former Xbox boss Don Mattrick will take over as Zynga CEO this week.

Conversations between former Microsoft Xbox boss Don Mattrick and Zynga, his new employer, have been going on much longer than just the past few months.

A new Bloomberg report reveals that Mattrick, who will take over as CEO of Zynga this week, actually wanted Microsoft to acquire Zynga back in 2010. He hoped the deal would bring more social gaming to Xbox from the company that put out titles like FarmVille and Words With Friends to the market.

That plan, though, never came to fruition. Who knows what the Redmond software giant would have done with an acquisition like that, but here’s what we do know: Not gobbling up Zynga may have ended up for the better.

Mattrick will take the reigns of a game maker that has lost revenue, employees and popularity in recent months. But the 49-year-old believes Zynga has yet to “realize its full potential.”

Don Mattrick and former Zynga CEO Mark Pincus, who will still have a leadership role at the company.

“I’ve admired Zynga for years. You have redefined entertainment and brought gaming to the mainstream,” he wrote in a a message to his new employees last week. “Only Zynga combines engineering, industry-leading product management and analytics to deliver products that strike a chord with consumers and add real value in their lives.”

It is also interesting to note that Mattrick left Microsoft Xbox, which has dealt with its own share of problems recently, just months before the Xbox One hits shelves in November.

His new gig will be no easier with Zynga trying to focus more on mobile and less on Facebook. Some analysts say the continued influence of ex-CEO Mark Pincus combined with Mattrick’s lack of mobile experience are red flags.

Mattrick will start at Zynga with a $5 million signing bonus with a $1 million salary. His salary package is worth about $50 million in stock, options and salary.

Previously on GeekWire: Xbox chief’s exit may clear way for new Microsoft devices division 

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  • Tim Acheson

    Mattrick was wrong. Three years ago Zynga almost had a monopoly, but competition in this market is increasingly strong. Microsoft already has a game studio, and it’s one of the best.

    Zynga’s stock is down 70% cent since 2011 when the company went public at US$10. In June the company announced large scale job cuts. Its games are fairly simple and tend to follow the same formula.

    Zynga would not necessarily be out of place in Microsoft’s diverse and strong portfolio which spans many sectors and segments. However, three years ago would have been the worst time to buy. A good time to buy might arrive in a few years when Zynga will probably be even cheaper. But MS does not need Zynga. Xbox certainly does not need Zynga. I don’t believe MS should pursue this type of business, but if it did then a few key hires from Zynga would be as useful as acquiring the entire operation.

  • Guest

    It’s great that Mattrick was able to use his MS position and travel/expense account to fully vet his new employer before signing on, including a recent trip down there under the guise of attending one of their events when really they were finalizing contract details. You stay classy, Don.

    • Guest

      Yeah but it’s not like he took the company submarine on the trip.

      Oh wait, he wouldn’t have been able to play the Xbox One on that could he so had to fly. I can empathize.

      What an absolute joke. He’s a poster child for overpaid under achieving execs who fail upward.

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