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Report: Electronic Arts COO leaves for Zynga

Tue, 04/26/2011 - 11:05am
The Associated Press

Electronic Arts Inc.'s chief operating officer has left the company to join Zynga Inc., maker of the popular "FarmVille" game for Facebook, according to published reports.

Electronic Arts, maker of the Madden series of football games, "The Sims," and other titles, said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday that John Schappert has resigned. His last day was Monday.

Schappert was an Electronic Arts employee twice, first in 1998 when the Redwood City, Calif.-based company bought his firm, Tiburon Entertainment, which was the studio behind EA's Madden and Tiger Woods games. After leaving for a two-year stint with Microsoft Corp. in which he was involved with building the Xbox Live online gaming service, Schappert rejoined EA in 2009.

Citing unidentified people familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reported that Schappert left EA to take a job with Zynga. EA spokesman Jeff Brown said he couldn't confirm that Schappert is going to Zynga.

Spokespeople from Zynga did not immediately return messages from The Associated Press.

Since its 2007 launch, the San Francisco startup has attracted about 250 million game players — most of whom connect on Facebook's even larger Web hangout. Zynga has grown so fast that it already has 1,500 employees and is moving into larger headquarters.

More recently, "CityVille" demonstrated Zynga's drawing power by attracting 100 million players in the first seven weeks after its December introduction. Zynga makes most of its money through the sale of virtual items in its games, with the rest from advertising and partnerships with companies such as Netflix or Vistaprint on special offers.

Prospective investors have been clamoring for a piece of Zynga in an initial public offering of stock that could come within the next year.

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