Zynga staff vent over stock price collapse

One takes to Quora to share devastation and disappointment

A number of Quora users claiming to be Zynga employees have shared their feelings about the recent stock price collapse, with one claiming to witness alcoholism, substance abuse and 11 hour days.

The anonymous writer claimed to be part of a start up acquired by Zynga, which lead to long working hours, especially in the 6 weeks before launch.

"I watched alcoholism and substance abuse skyrocket, relationships crumble (including my own), people slept on office couches, two developers got divorced, one nervous breakdown," said the writer.

"They attempted to smooth this over with more stock, free food and t-shirts. Free food doesn't do you much good when you've lost fifteen pounds from not eating."

He said the game failed to perform, leading to no bonuses and even more work to improve it, but that they were told it would all be worth it once the IPO came through.

"We were told point blank in one studio-wide meeting that we would IPO 'around $20 a share', and could expect $100 a share within a year if we 'launched one or two more successful titles'. A quick analysis of the company fundamentals placed it closer to $10. It now sits at $2.90."

The posts came in answer to a Quora question, "how do Zynga employees feel about the company's summer 2012 stock price drop?" While the strong answers have stirred up media interest, it has to be pointed out that those posts are not verified, and a number of people have taken to the site to argue against them.

"This post is either a gross exaggeration or possibly fabricated account of what it is like to work at Zynga," posted Niko Vuori, Zynga general manager, while another anonymous writer who claimed to have worked for the company for two years said the angry posters seemed "pissed because they were actually expected to work hard, assimilate into the Zynga culture, and deliver a Zynga product."

"Are we happy about the stock price? Of course not. But we came here to make games-not to cash out, flip everyone off and go vacation in the Bahamas. None of us are going anywhere."

Another said "people that come into this company aren't tricked. They don't believe it's going to be a dream job where hours are 9-5 and family life is valued above all else."

Vuori had concluded with what he felt was the "bottom line."

"NO ONE IS FORCING ANYONE TO WORK HERE AGAINST THEIR WILL. If you are a top performer, you WILL be rewarded (no politics required). If you are not a top performer, it might suck a little bit. But you can vote with your feet, and just take off."

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Latest comments (7)

Dan Howdle Head of Content, Existent5 years ago
"NO ONE IS FORCING ANYONE TO WORK HERE AGAINST THEIR WILL. If you are a top performer, you WILL be rewarded (no politics required). If you are not a top performer, it might suck a little bit. But you can vote with your feet, and just take off."
First, very few meritocracies are fair. They tend to work on the basis of visibility of work more than they do the value of it. They are ignorant of the little guy slaving in the back room, yet rain plaudits on the guy who lands in the boss's office every day and who claims ownership of all that hard work. If a meritocracy is you're chosen company culture, you'd better be sure it's absolutely water-tight. They never, ever are.

Second, saying to your employees, 'NO ONE IS FORCING YOU TO WORK HERE,' especially in big, ANGRY CAPS, is quite possibly the most misguided, abhorrant and asinine way to deal with a wounded company culture that I have ever come across. Essentially, you're saying, 'Yes, we know you're all upset, but we're right and you're wrong, so, you know, deal with it.'

Situations like this are only ever aggravated by such frankly despotic behaviour.

There's clearly a wound. And you don't make it better by trying to gouge it out with a jackknife.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Dan Howdle on 10th August 2012 12:59pm

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Josh Ahearne Audio/Music, Story Writing 5 years ago
I was going to say something but Dan hit the nail on the head. There seems to be a childish mentality at Zynga wherein if someone complains in anyway about the company then someone higher up will come out with a line that seems to translate to pouting.

Additionally, the whole "no one is forcing you to work here" line really is a slap to the face. I lost my job over a year ago and since haven't been able to get even the lowest of the lowest paid jobs and I'm not the only one. So yes no one is being forced to work there technically but the prospect of being unemployed for huge swaths of time will keep a person in a job no matter how terrible it is for their physical and mental well being.
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Jason Poss Music 5 years ago
Bravo, Howdle! Vuori is even saying that if you're not a top performer, then working at Zynga is going to suck a little bit. That's pretty sad when you admit that for the majority of workers working at your company is going to suck. Everybody can't be at the top, so the rest of you are out of luck. It's the same pathetic justification bad management has used to abuse labor for centuries. "It's your fault because you're not willing to work hard enough. If you don't agree, there's the door." Most intelligent people don't consider that a choice.

It's sad to see game management still making these boneheaded statements. You'd think they would have learned a few things since EA Spouse. If nothing else, you'd think a manager would be bright enough to not say things like this in a forum.
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Show all comments (7)
Hugo Trepanier Game Designer, Behaviour Interactive5 years ago
A vast amount of Zynga employees likely didn't choose to be employed by the big dog and were simply acquired through one of the many studios Zynga ate up. Must suck more than just a little bit for them.

Not to minimize the situation but this type of poor employee treatment is hardly an exception in this industry, unfortunately. It's not true of every studio but most teams have to go through crunch time at one point or another in their career. You'd think that the advent of online experiences that do not require a specific shipping deadline would solve this problem at least in part, but obviously that is not the case here.
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Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 5 years ago
What do you expect with a publically-traded company?

Public trading is for things like consumer goods, manufacturing, mining, and so on. It's not a structure that you can use to make true quality stuff in an entertainment industry context. If you try it, you have no choice but to turn you core creators into the same kind of people who work in consumer retail, manufacturing and mining - drone workers. You can't get good creativity out of that, sorry.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tim Carter on 11th August 2012 2:09am

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Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus5 years ago
@Dan - I would actually argue that these responses to the complaints are Q.E.D. regarding Zynga's corporate culture, just like they were when the former OMGPOP CEO made it sound like he was culling the weak from the herd when that one employee didn't go to Zynga when they were acquired.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 5 years ago
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