EA's COO John Schappert Leaves to Join Zynga

Electronic Arts disclosed this morning that its COO, John Schappert, resigned yesterday.

According to sources familiar with the matter, Schappert is joining Zynga, the San Francisico start-up that is building a mini-empire based on games running on Facebook.

His departure was noted in a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission this morning. An EA spokesperson confirmed his resignation, but declined to comment on where he was headed.

It’s unclear what role Schappert will play at Zynga, although it is reportedly as COO. A Zynga spokesperson declined to comment.

Schappert’s hiring would be only the latest. Earlier this month, Kara Swisher’s BoomTown reported that Zynga hired Taylor Barada, Yahoo’s recently appointed head of M&A, for an unspecified role. On the same day, the start-up announced it hired former Cisco exec Debra Chrapaty as CIO.

Zynga, which has developed popular games like CityVille, FarmVille and Mafia Wars, is reportedly raising up to $250 million in new funding and could be beefing up its management team for a potential IPO.

In 2010, the three-year-old company reportedly earned $400 million on $850 million in revenues last year, making it a lot smaller than Electronic Arts. However, many have pointed out that the company’s valuation in its next financing could exceed EA’s current public market cap of $6.75 billion.

EA does not break out revenues of its Playfish subsidiary, which competes against Zynga, but it says it is on track to hit $750 million in digital revenues in 2011. Last year, its overall GAAP revenues totaled $3.7 billion.

Schappert’s departure is similar to the circumstances in which he joined EA 22 months ago. He replaced John Pleasants, who was leaving to become the CEO of Playdom, the social game developer that Disney eventually acquired. Schappert, who was working in Microsoft’s Xbox division at the time, had previously been the COO of EA’s worldwide studios.

We’ve obtained the letter that CEO John Riccitiello sent out to EA employees this morning regarding Schappert’s departure, which he did tersely:

All,

We’ve just started FY12 and the year promises to be one of the most exciting in EA’s history. Thank you for your hard work, commitment and success in FY11.  You will hear more on our FY11 results next week during our earnings call on May 4th and at our global Town Hall meeting broadcast from EALA on May 5th.

Today I would like to communicate some important organizational changes that I believe are beneficial for EA. Our focus is and must be on our IP, going digital and our great people. Effective immediately, Nancy Smith, Barry Cottle and David DeMartini will report directly to me. Nancy leads our global publishing organization and has been an industry icon and EA leader for over 25 years. Barry leads EA Interactive, and our Mobile, POGO and Social business and has proven to be one of the best digital leaders in our industry. Dave DeMartini is leading one of our most important strategic initiatives related to online infrastructure. I am proud to expand my team with these veteran EA leaders who are committed to and passionate about their teams, their roles and EA.

I’d also like to thank John Schappert for his contributions to EA.  John’s last day at EA was Monday of this week. We wish him well.

We have come a long way and EA could not have made it to where we are today without each of you. It is without question that the talented individuals and teams creating new ideas, products and services are what make EA a great company. The board, management team and I are very confident about where we are and where we’re going from here. I look forward to sharing more with all of you during our Town Hall meeting on May 5th.

John

 


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