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Pincus: Employees have a "real love" for Zynga

CEO responds to rumours of a post-IPO talent exodus

Zynga CEO Mark Pincus has responded to claims that a large number of his employees will leave the company now that they are able to sell shares.

The rumours started with an article New York Times, in which EA's Gabrielle Toledano warned that Zynga's tendency to treat its "talent as a commodity" would lead to a post-IPO exodus.

The article cited the testimony of several former employees who claimed that Zynga's reputation had caused takeover bids for both PopCap and Rovio to fail.

However, in an interview with Fortune, the first since Zynga went public last week, Mark Pincus dismissed the idea.

"I'm not sure why there's been all that speculation other than that we've been in a quiet period," he said.

"Our company has historically had very low attrition, much lower than other public or private companies in Silicon Valley. I know that hasn't been reported on, but it's true."

Pincus believes that three factors are vital to the retention of key talent: belief in the direction and mission of the company, career mobility, and individual empowerment.

"Our employees have a real love for Zynga and real pride," he added. "We've asked them not to go out and defend us in the press or blogs, so I don't think that's come through publicly yet."

Forbes also questioned Pincus about his decision to sell $109 million of his personal stock in March. At the time, the stock was worth $14 a share - considerably higher than the $10 a share set by the IPO.

"I've never been trying to time the market or be an expert on valuation of us or anybody else. My approach from the beginning, because I've wanted to stay at this company for the rest of my career, has been to take a different approach from other entrepreneurs who might look to sell their company as an exit."

"Since early on, I've sold small pieces of my ownership along the way, so as not to feel any pressure to sell the company. I don't think you can look at any single one of those transactions and use it to judge my beliefs at that time in the future prospects of the company or its value."

Zynga's share price rose by 10 per cent to $11 immediately following the IPO, but subsequently plummeted to close the day's trading at $9.50.

The company's early market performance is consistent with this year's other major tech IPOs, including Groupon, Nexon and Pandora.

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Matthew Handrahan avatar
Matthew Handrahan: Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.
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