Zynga's Corporate Culture Bleeds Talent, Money

Zynga's Corporate Culture Bleeds Talent, Money

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Talented game designers may take the money and run after Zynga's stock makes millions.

Many within The Escapist community have demonized Zynga for its initially shady business practices and its, well, demonic games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars. On the eve of a blockbuster IPO - that stands for Initial Public Offering, kids, in which us plebians can finally lay down hard cash for a piece of Zynga's stock - reports are coming in from multiple sources of the social gaming company's rotten core. Mark Pincus, the founder and CEO of Zynga, has been criticized by his employees for his caustic managerial style and not even perks like free Las Vegas trips and acupuncture can assuage interminably long hours and overly metric-based performance reviews. Many Zynga employees have outright stated that once the stock goes public and they can cash out, they are going to tell Pincus to take this job, and shove it up his FarmVille donkey.

Zynga's bad reputation has prevented it from acquiring some top talent. Before PopCap was purchased by EA for $750 million plus stock, Zynga reportedly offered $950 million. PopCap rejected the higher offer over fears that Pincus' personality would infect their offices. Angry Birds developer Rovio also walked away from a $2.25 billion offer from Zynga based on the negative reputation.

The CEO's concentration on numbers as a way to measure progress has turned off many of the creative people at Zynga. "It's very similar to a New York investment bank," said an analyst. "It's data-driven, and it's intense."

"I expect a lot of game and tech companies will begin recruiting Zynga's talent after their equity becomes liquid," said Gabrielle Toledano, who is in charge of hiring at competitor Electronic Arts. "Competitors will make the case that they offer much more compelling opportunities for creative people."

The IPO for Zynga was originally valued at almost $1 billion but with the recent swell of anti-Zynga sentiment coupled with reports that Mafia Wars 2 isn't exactly making money like gangbusters, that number is sure to drop.

Man, karma is a bitch.

Source: New York Times

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Karma nothing, the guy's about to make several metric ass-loads of money for behaving like a dick for half a decade.

On the other hand, all the people who've been stuck working for him on poor pay and hypothetical company shares are about to score too, so maybe it all balances out in the end.

Is that the only picture that exists of Pincus? It screams "a failed effort to look candid, mellow, and approachable" about as much as a picture of Richard Nixon hugging Woodward and Bernstein.

Given how this guy acts, I fully expect him to whip out the employment contracts the day of the IPO and point to some ultrafine print forbidding anyone but him from selling stock until a year after IPO. This will be followed by maniacal laughter.

Greg Tito:
Before PopCap was purchased by EA for $750 million plus stock, Zynga reportedly offered $950 million. PopCap rejected the higher offer over fears that Pincus' personality would infect their offices.

I'd like everyone to meditate for a moment on what it takes to make EA, a company in the news repeatedly for alleged abuse of employees, $200 million more attractive than Zynga.

Formica Archonis:
Is that the only picture that exists of Pincus? It screams "a failed effort to look candid, mellow, and approachable" about as much as a picture of Richard Nixon hugging Woodward and Bernstein.

Given how this guy acts, I fully expect him to whip out the employment contracts the day of the IPO and point to some ultrafine print forbidding anyone but him from selling stock until a year after IPO. This will be followed by maniacal laughter.

Greg Tito:
Before PopCap was purchased by EA for $750 million plus stock, Zynga reportedly offered $950 million. PopCap rejected the higher offer over fears that Pincus' personality would infect their offices.

I'd like everyone to meditate for a moment on what it takes to make EA, a company in the news repeatedly for alleged abuse of employees, $200 million more attractive than Zynga.

wow...that's really intense.

I'm going to need to use that thought one day.

Grief on high, that is terrible. I feel comfortable, and happy, saying the only Zynga game I play is Words with Friends, which was free, and I ignore all of it's ads. This is not a revelation for the casual game industry. Hopefully a few other companies extend out, and pick up some of the creative talent available at Zynga, so they can get out from the umbrella of such nasty reputation.

Formica Archonis:
I'd like everyone to meditate for a moment on what it takes to make EA, a company in the news repeatedly for alleged abuse of employees, $200 million more attractive than Zynga.

Though from the looks of it, EA was still offering the better option: The stock options could total as much as $550 million. But even without that, still looks like they're better. Get a load of the quotes from employees.

What I got from it:
"Zynga Speed". It gets done, it doesn't get done right. Crunch time is all the time. Everything is scheduled with the assumption that you'll work AT LEAST 12 hours a day 6 days a week on it. You don't get rewarded for anything unless you work over 80 hours a week, or you're one of the guys handing out rewards (HR or management). Quality of work is irrelevant, you just gotta keep cranking out product.

You get plenty of free food but that seems to be because they don't want you to go home. People have been outright TOLD by their bosses that they're expected to be working or sleeping, nothing else. If you want anything other than that, you have to play politics HARD to get a management job.

There's no 2 or 3 weeks a year vacation. Officially you can take vacation whenever you get approval, up to 52 weeks a year! Unofficially they never approve vacation so you WORK 52 weeks a year and don't even get to accrue time off because they never promised you any. There's the company vacations to Vegas and that but those are only for people who, again, hand out the rewards or work seven days a week or the like. (Work nonstop for 6 months just for a plane ticket to Vegas? No thanks.)

People are micromanaged to hell by their bosses from their immediate boss right up to Pincus.

People are swappable parts. Someone burns out and quits, someone else is told to do the job. Doesn't matter if it's their skillset or not.

As a perk, you can bring your dog! But there's no real requirement about the dog being housebroken.

You're often asked your opinion of the management. On regular non-anonymous surveys. Apparently the CEO has a high approval rating, I wonder why?

Formica Archonis:
I'd like everyone to meditate for a moment on what it takes to make EA, a company in the news repeatedly for alleged abuse of employees, $200 million more attractive than Zynga.

My thoughts precisely.

So, who's up for a mass purchase and then dumping of stock, guys?

I can almost feel bad for whoever takes the bet, except that they will probably be people who do not know what Zynga means, and the chances of them winning the bet aren't that bad even though everything points to the contrary...at least in the short term.

Greg Tito:
Man, karma is a bitch.

It's not as much Karma as it is stupid blind/short-term business decisions, I am hopeful that something similar will happen to Activision over short or long...

 

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