Zynga announced today that it’s adding former Electronic Arts executive Frank Gibeau to its board of directors.
The addition is an important move for Zynga, which is trying to make mobile games in a more profitable manner. Gibeau is one of the most seasoned executives in the game industry, and most recently, he was an executive vice president running EA Mobile, a direct competitor to Zynga.
A kind of bizarre love-hate relationship between EA and Zynga, as they have exchanged talent and executives so often. Don Mattrick, the former head of EA’s game studios, was CEO of Zynga until earlier this year. Other former EA execs who did stints on Zynga’s executive team include Clive Downie, Jeff Karl, John Schappert, and Colleen McCreary. All have since moved on.
“My relationships with EA now go back a long time,” said Zynga CEO Mark Pincus in an interview with GamesBeat. “I have known Frank and respected Frank for a long time. As a competitor, he has been super smart and strategic.”
Pincus noted that he competed with Gibeau on the PopCap deal, when EA came out on top and acquired the maker of popular games like Bejeweled, Plants vs. Zombies, and Peggle for more than $750 million.
One of the reasons for the easy flow back-and-forth is that Bing Gordon, the former chief creative officer at EA, has been on Zynga’s board since its early days. But in this case, Pincus personally recruited Gibeau. Pincus came back in as CEO earlier this year to replace Mattrick.
“I think [Gibeau] has made a lot of smart moves,” Pincus said. “When he was no longer part of EA, I thought he would be great DNA to add. I am hopeful we are going to see him highly engaged with our company, similar to the way that Bing has been engaged.”
Gibeau was not available for an interview.