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Zynga snags senior executive from Electronic Arts

April 26, 2011 | 11:48 am

Beefing up its senior management ranks, social game giant Zynga has recruited John Schappert, the former chief operating officer of Electronic Arts.

The move by San Francisco-based Zynga is yet another signal of the company's seriousness in creating a social games powerhouse that can rival more traditional game companies in terms of revenue.

Zynga's 55 games, including Cityville, Farmville and Mafia Wars, command a 75% market share of social games played on Facebook in terms of number of players, according to AppData. Close to 260 million people played a Zynga game last month. The second-biggest developer on Facebook, Badoo, had just  49.5 million players.

Zynga, which is thought to be laying the groundwork for a initial public offering, reportedly has a valuation north of $10 billion, based on a recent funding round that raised $500 million in Februrary. In comparison, EA, based in Redwood City, Calif., has a market capitalization of $6.75 billion.

Schappert, a veteran of the video game industry, worked at Electronic Arts managing the company's sports game business, among other properties, before leaving in 2007 to join Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox games unit. He rejoined EA two years later to reunite with his former boss and EA chief executive, John Riccitiello. Schappert resigned from EA on Monday, according to an 8K regulatory filing.

He will join a number of EA alumni who are now involved in Zynga, including Mark Skaggs, who produced the Command & Conquer series of games for EA, among other titles, and Bing Gordon, former chief creative officer at EA who is an early investor in Zynga and is on the company's board.

News of Schappert's leaving EA to join Zynga was reported earlier by Reuters and VentureBeat.

-- Alex Pham