Zynga May Be Hiring Away Electronic Arts COO in Anticipation of Possible IPO

By Ed Silverstein April 26, 2011

Zynga, the social gaming company, is possibly hiring away the chief operating officer from Electronic Arts Inc., sources told Reuters this week. The move could indicate an IPO is possible.

The COO, John Schappert, will lead Zynga's game division, Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources.

Schappert has 17 years of experience in the game industry, according to the EA website.

After working as a game software engineer and project leader, he founded Tiburon Entertainment in 1994, which is the studio behind EA’s Madden NFL, NCAA Football and Tiger Woods games. Tiburon was acquired by EA in 1998.

In 2002, he moved to EA’s Burnaby Studio in British Columbia, Canada, and was promoted to senior vice president and group general manager for the company. He oversaw production of FIFA Soccer, NHL hockey, and Need For Speed. He was later named COO for EA’s Worldwide Studios and executive vice president, and oversaw EA’s Online Platform and Central Development Services Group.

In 2007, he went to Microsoft where he created the LIVE Software Division, an online services group for Xbox. He oversaw large franchises, including Halo, Gears of War and Forza Motorsport. Schappert and the team increased Xbox Live from 6 million to 20 million members.

In June 2009, he was named COO at EA, where he has been responsible for Worldwide Publishing, Online Platform Group, EA Interactive, Central Development Services and other divisions.

Given that Schappert has experience in management at a publicly-traded video game company, it may indicate Zynga could soon have an initial public offering, Reuters said. Zynga has seen a lot of growth recently with games such as FarmVille and CityVille.

Reuters adds that Zynga raised about $500 million from investors during most recent investment round, with the company valued at up to $10 billion.

EA has some 8,000 employees located worldwide. EA develops, publishes, and distributes software for video games, PCs, wireless devices and the Internet, according to the company’s website.

In February, Zynga had a value of between $7 billion and $9 billion, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. That is a definite increase from a year ago, when the company gave a value of about $4 billion, according to TechZone360. The company is about three years old.

Ed Silverstein is a TechZone360 contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

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