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Mattrick to make at least $50 million at Zynga

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Don Mattrick (Credit: Microsoft)

Maybe Don Mattrick and Zynga were meant to be, after all.

As the gaming world struggles to comprehend the move by the one-time head of Microsoft’s Xbox division to the CEO’s office of the struggling social and mobile gaming giant, details are coming to light that could explain not only why Mattrick made the move, but that it was a long time coming.

Mattrick will receive $50 million in cash and stock over the next three years at the company. On top of that, he’s in line to receive significant bonuses based on performance, should he help the company turn around.

This year, for example, Mattrick stands to make a bonus of up to $2 million. Next year, that could jump to $4 million -- as well as a stock grant of up to $7 million.

Zynga will pay Mattrick a one-time signing bonus of $5 million in addition to his base salary of $1 million a year. He’ll also get a “make whole” grant of nearly 9 million restricted stock units for Class A Zynga stock -- valued at $25 million -- to make up for the Microsoft shares he’s leaving behind. If the company’s stock rises (as it did when word of his appointment began to spread), that could be worth considerably more in the years to come.

The move last week wasn’t the first time Zynga and Mattrick had talked, though.

According to Bloomberg, in 2010 Mattrick attempted to buy Zynga and add it to Microsoft’s holdings in an attempt to boost Microsoft’s Xbox lineup with social games. The talks ultimately fell apart, for reasons that weren’t immediately clear. It is, however, a bit hard to imagine Xbox Live Gold members clamoring over the chance to play Farmville.

Mattrick's exorbitant pay stands in stark contrast to former Zynga CEO and current Chairman Mark Pincus, who back in April lowered his salary to $1 and opted out of performance awards in an effort to help the struggling company find stable financial ground.

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