In 1997, Alex Garden founded Relic to build a videogame about spaceships. Less than seven days ago, he became president of Zynga Studios.
No word on more spaceships as yet.
Garden joined Zynga this week in a game of company musical chairs that saw Mark Pincus shuffle off his chief product officer title, and Don Mattrick end his hands-on role in favour of ascending to Helios. I’m paraphrasing the announcement.
In any case, Garden was brought on by Mattrick in an attempt to infuse the shrivelling social games giant’s upper management squad with some serious game dev experience.
What’ll interest Zynga is not just Garden's Relic pedigree, but his stint at the head of Xbox Live throughout 2012. Not to mention the time since he's spent in charge of all the bits on the Xbox dashboard that aren’t games - Music, Video and Advertising.
But here’s what’s interesting to us: Garden not only founded Relic, but directed and executive produced Homeworld. His seven year tenure at the head of the company included oversight of the original Company of Heroes, and ended with his brokering of Relic’s sale to THQ (which, remember, was a much better deal at the time than it seems now).
Among his proudest achievements at Relic, he names “seeng nearly every employee buy their homes”, which is nice. Also “seeing the average weight of our employees drop by 10 pounds” - a bit weird, but similarly nice.