Zynga Adds Fifth Ex-Electronic Arts Executive, With Its Blessing

  • Griffin joins as CFO, reporting to former EA exec Gibeau
  • FarmVille maker looking for new hits, mobile success

Zynga Inc. hired Gerard Griffin, senior vice president of finance at Electronic Arts Inc., to be its new chief financial officer, the fifth executive hired this year with ties to its game-making rival.

Griffin follows the trail of Frank Gibeau, an executive vice president of mobile at EA who was named Zynga’s chief executive officer in March. In an unusual move, EA put out a statement supporting Griffin’s career change.

“From all of us at EA, we want to congratulate Ger Griffin on his new role and thank him for 10 years with us,” the company’s CFO Blake Jorgensen said in an e-mailed statement. “We wish him all the best.”

San Francisco-based Zynga was a pioneer in the business of making free-to-play, social games for Facebook Inc. and other platforms. The company has struggled since going public in 2011 to make the transition to mobile devices and come up with hits that top early successes such as FarmVille and Words with Friends. Co-founder Mark Pincus came back as CEO last year before handing the reins to Gibeau. He remains chairman.

EA, one of the largest video-game makers and home to franchises such as Madden NFL, underwent its own turnaround a few years ago, paring back spending, focusing on digital revenue and releasing fewer major titles.

Other former EA executives who have joined Zynga this year include Doug Scott, Zynga’s chief marketing officer; Matt Bromberg, chief operating officer; and Bernard Kim, president of publishing. While Scott didn’t come directly from EA, many of the executives overlapped with Gibeau at some point over his 25-year career at the company.

Activision Blizzard Inc., the largest U.S. video-game publisher, acquired Zynga’s largest competitor King Digital this year for $5.9 billion.

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