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Zynga snatches Barry Cottle from Electronic Arts

January 12, 2012 |  7:12 pm

Zynga snatches Barry Cottle
There is a hunting game being waged in the Bay Area gaming community, and Zynga Inc. is racking up quite a score.

The San Francisco game company on Thursday announced it has hired Barry Cottle as executive vice president of business and corporate development. Cottle, 50, had headed up Electronic Arts Inc.'s rapidly growing mobile and social games business, where he spearheaded a number of major acquisitions, including PopCap Games, Firemint and Chillingo. Prior to joining EA, Cottle was chief operating officer of Palm Computing Inc. and worked as a senior vice president of marketing at the Walt Disney Co.

Cottle is the latest in a series of senior EA executives to have joined Zynga. Other big EA names now at Zynga include John Schappert, former EA chief operating officer, who currently holds the same title at Zynga. Cottle will report to Schappert, just as he did when both were at EA.

Zynga's president of games, Steven Chiang, was previously head of EA's sports game development studio in Florida. Mark Skaggs, Zynga's senior vice president and the developer behind FarmVille and CityVille, had been a game producer at EA. Bing Gordon, a Zynga board member, was once EA's chief creative officer.

Zynga's announcement came as EA announced its own management shuffle. The Redwood City, Calif., game publisher dissolved its EA Interactive division, once led by Cottle, according to an internal company memo from EA Chief Executive John Riccitiello. The division had focused on games served up digitally, either as mobile downloads or as social games on Facebook. Instead, those efforts will be absorbed into existing divisions, including EA Sports, EA Games, BioWare and Maxis.

The reorganization "reflects our new reality: everyone and everything is digital," wrote Riccitiello, who noted that EA racked up $1 billion in sales in 2011 from downloads, subscriptions and sales of virtual goods — in other words, everything except games served up on discs and cartridges.

When asked about Zynga's raids on the company's stable of executives and developers, EA spokesman Jeff Brown said, "We’re flattered by the recognition of EA's bench, but doesn’t Zynga have any confidence in their own bench strength?"


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Zynga snags John Schappert from EA

— Alex Pham

Image: Getty Images