After some major corporate shakeups just last week, Zynga has announced that COO John Schappert has stepped down from the company and its board of directors, effective immediately.
While this move could have significant implications for Zynga's future, Schappert's departure is not particularly surprising, as the executive (and former EA bigwig) was reportedly stripped of his duties overseeing Zynga's game operations early last week.
This news comes just a week after Electronic Arts, where Schappert previously worked as COO, filed a lawsuit against Zynga, accusing the social game studio of copying the design and various visual elements of The Sims Social for its popular game The Ville.
A key part of EA's argument is that Zynga poached a number of high level executives, including Schappert, who had access to internal information regarding The Sims Social's design, development, and strategic plans. The publisher believes Zynga could have used that information while building The Ville.
"We can confirm that John Schappert has left Zynga and its Board of Directors effective immediately," Zynga CEO Mark Pincus said in a prepared statement. "John has made significant contributions to the games industry throughout his career and we appreciate all that he has done for Zynga. John leaves as a friend of the company and we wish him all the best.”
Before he was sidelined last week, Schappert was the primary figure in charge of all of Zynga's games. As we reported last week, however, those duties now fall upon chief mobile officer David Ko and executive VP Steve Chiang, who currently report directly to Pincus.
While Zynga did not confirm why it relieved Schappert of his responsibilities, the company did run into challenges while he was COO. Zynga's most recent quarter was particularly troublesome, as the company failed to meet expectations for a number of its major Facebook and mobile games.
Prior to joining Zynga in April 2011, Schappert spent several years working at EA on and off, helped the company gain a foothold in the online and social space.
In addition, Schappert helped co-found Madden NFL developer Tiburon Entertainment in 1994. Following EA's acquisition of the studio, he served in several executive roles at the publishing giant before heading to Microsoft in 2007. He then rejoined EA in July 2009.Madden NFL