Zynga Poaches EA Exec

High-profile hire is latest coup for the social gaming upstart

John Schappert, chief operating officer of Electronic Arts, has left the videogames goliath to join the buzzy social gaming startup Zynga.

EA announced the departure in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, The Wall Street Journal is reporting. Zynga, the publisher of wildly popular titles FarmVille and CityVille, has declined to comment.

The high-profile move is the latest in a series of signals that casual and social gaming has come of age. Pop star Lady Gaga is reportedly in discussions with the company about a partnership to promote the singer's upcoming album to Zynga's sprawling community of gamers.

Furthermore, T. Rowe Price recently disclosed a $71.8 million investment in Zynga, which has also added Jeffrey Katzenberg to its board of directors.

In addition, Zynga has recently poached talent from Yahoo (senior exec David Ko) and MySpace (CEO Owen Van Natta).

Schappert joined EA in June 2009 as COO, after serving as a corporate vice president at Microsoft Corp., where he managed portions of its videogame business.