EA COO jumps ship

Video game industry veteran John Schappert, who has served as chief operating officer at Electronic Arts for the past two years, has quietly left the company. Schappert

Schappert’s last day was yesterday – and media reports indicate he plans to join social gamers maker (and EA rival) Zynga in an undisclosed role.

If those reports are accurate, it would be one of Zynga’s most high-profile hires to date. The company has quietly been cherry picking developers from several studios, but with Schappert in a senior role, the company would be much better positioned for its long-rumored IPO.

Before his stint at EA, Schappert spent two years running Microsoft’s Xbox Live division. He is also the founder of Tiburon Studios, which makes the Madden (and several other sports) games for EA. All totaled, he comes with over 20 years of industry experience.

EA, of course, has been expanding steadily into the social gaming space, where Zynga is the undisputed market leader. In 2009, the company bought Playfish in a deal worth up to $400 million. Since then, EA has been increasingly relying on that division to drive up digital revenues.

Last year, Zynga’s estimated market cap surpassed that of EA, topping $5.5 billion. Insiders have been waiting for the company to announce plans for an IPO for some time now, noting that the company has grown much too big to be acquired. 

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