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EA CEO search back to "square one" - Pachter

Wedbush analyst says Don Mattrick had been a "front-runner" for the EA job, but now EA will have to start over

Newly appointed Zynga chief Don Mattrick may not have come directly from Electronic Arts (like some other Zynga staff), but Zynga's gain may have been EA's loss anyway. Not only is Mattrick an EA veteran, but it's believed that EA had been strongly considering Mattrick for the CEO seat left vacant by John Riccitiello. In a note published today, Wedbush Securities' analyst Michael Pachter said Mattrick was a "front-runner" for the EA job.

"EA presents a different challenge from Zynga, with over 4x the revenue and significantly higher profitability, and we think that the company is largely on the right track already. We were surprised that Mr. Mattrick took the Zynga job.. we believed that the larger company presented a more prestigious opportunity," Pachter said.

"Now that Mr. Mattrick has taken the job at Zynga, EA is back to square one in its search. We believe that the company will find few qualified candidates outside the company, and will ultimately choose between the top two internal candidates, COO Peter Moore and EVP Frank Gibeau. Both men are capable of running EA, in our opinion, and investors would respond favorably to either being appointed."

It's unclear when EA will make a decision on its CEO position. In the meantime, executive chairman Larry Probst continues to act as interim CEO, handling the day-to-day responsibilities. As for Mattrick and Zynga, Pachter is confident that investors will be very pleased in the near future. "Mr. Mattrick has the skills and experience required to manage a large organization, and we believe he will right-size Zynga staffing levels in order to allow the company to become profitable almost immediately," he said.

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James Brightman

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James Brightman has been covering the games industry since 2003 and has been an avid gamer since the days of Atari and Intellivision. He was previously EIC and co-founder of IndustryGamers and spent several years leading GameDaily Biz at AOL prior to that.

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