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Zynga's hire of Xbox chief Don Mattrick last week certainly seemed like a surprise at the time with many even speculating that he was forced out of Microsoft following the Xbox One always-on / used games debacle. As it turns out, however, Mattrick had ties with Zynga that date back at least three years.
According to a recent report from Bloomberg, Mattrick and Zynga founder Mark Pincus discussed the possibility of Microsoft purchasing the company back in 2010. The idea was that Zynga's catalog could be used to boost the lineup of social titles on the Xbox.
Talks eventually fell through although Pincus and Mattrick remained in touch. It was this connection that ultimately led to the discussion of Mattrick joining Zynga as its CEO back in March. That of course means that Mattrick was already considering the position well before the Xbox One was announced - effectively invalidating the idea that he was pushed out the door by Microsoft in the wake of the console's announcement.
Mattrick certainly has his work cut out for him at Zynga. The once dominant social games maker has relinquished its top spot on Facebook as it struggles to shift focus from browser-based games to mobile platforms.
Either way, the executive will be handsomely rewarded in his new position. Mattrick's salary is set at $1 million annually in addition to a $5 million signing bonus and a $2 million bonus for the year. The big money, however, lies in vested stocks over the next three years. Based on current share value, Mattrick is looking at just north of $30 million.