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Zynga has a new boss.
The mobile developer and publisher announced today that Frank Gibeau will become the company’s new chief executive officer after current CEO Mark Pincus steps down. It’ll be Gibeau’s job to put Zynga back on the path of success. The company helped to start the social gaming revolution in the late 2000s with Facebook hits like Farmville, but it has struggled to successfully transition to the $34.8 billion mobile gaming industry.
But who is Gibeau? He joined Zynga’s board of directors last August. Before that, he was a part of Electronic Art’s successful mobile division. He left the giant video game publisher that he joined in 1991 last May.
“It’s been a really great ride, the best job ever, jam-packed with incredible life experiences and filled with many great friends,” Gibeau told GamesBeat back in May about EA. “After an incredible 20-year career, I’ve accomplished all that I could have imagined and more. I’m very proud of all the great games that I had a chance to work on. I thank EA for the opportunity and wish them the very best. I am excited to explore my next challenge.”
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Before working on the mobile division, Gibeau worked on some of EA’s biggest franchises, including The Sims, Battlefield, and Madden. Madden alone has sold over 100 million copies. As the head of EA Mobile, he competed directly with Zynga.
“I have known Frank and respected Frank for a long time,” said former Zynga CEO Mark Pincus in an interview with GamesBeat back in. “As a competitor, he has been super smart and strategic.”
Gibeau helped EA acquire PopCap Games, the developer behind mobile hits like Bejewled and Plants vs. Zombies, in 2012 for more than $750 million. Zynga also tried to acquire PopCap, Pincus told GamesBeat. EA also acquired developer PlayFish in 2009 for $400 million during Gibeau’s tenure. PlayFish worked on social games based on EA franchises like Madden and The Sims.
EA Mobile also had a huge hit with The Simpsons: Tapped Out, a free-to-play game that features the popular characters from the show. It has made more than $130 million in revenue for EA since its release in 2012.
But Gibeau is also a man that understands marketing. From 2002 to 2005, he was senior vice president of North American marketing for EA, working on franchises like Medal of Honor, Need for Speed, and Skate. In his earlier days at the company, his titles at EA included product manager, product marketing manager, product marketing director, and director of marketing.
His success with mobile at a large company like EA makes Gibeau a reasonable choice for CEO, but he has a huge challenge in front of him. Pincus steps down less than a year after filling in the CEO role in the company he founded. He replaced Don Mattrick, who was previously head of Microsoft’s Xbox division before joining Zynga in 2013. Lately, no one has stayed at the company’s CEO job for long.
Already this year, Zynga has put its San Francisco headquarters up for sale. At its peak, the company had about 3,500 employees, but now that number is at 1,669. Gibeau will have to figure out a way to make Zynga’s mobile offerings compete with mega developers like King and Supercell.
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