While Zynga was busy laying off 520 employees without warning yesterday, including most of his officemates, Zynga's newly hired VP of mobile ad strategy Timothy Price piped up on Facebook to assure his friends that he wasn't one of 18 percent.
"I am still very gainfully EMPLOYED, as is our advertising team," Price wrote in a Facebook post last night, calling the bloodbath "indicative of doing the right thing for the right reasons." Price even went as far as praising Zynga's restraint.
We've got $1.5B+ in the bank, and today's announcement show's temperance with respect to management of capital. We're not going out of business, period full stop.
One former employee of Zynga New York told Valleywag that Price's tactless post towing the company line while axed staffers drowned their sorrows was a "prime example of how Zynga operates," i.e. prioritizing advertising over technological innovation and developers.
We've reached out to Zynga to see how many New York staffers were spared besides Price and will update the post when we hear back.
Zynga's New York outpost combined three previous acquisitions: OMGPOP, Area/Code, and Astro Ape studios. (Area/Code and OMGPOP had separate offices downtown and in Chelsea until they were merged in January, after "get to know your counterpart" field trips.)
Although many employees found out about the massive layoffs from their coworker's Facebook posts, the writing was on the wall, the former staffer told Valleywag:
Once Dan Porter was out of the picture, most of OMGPOP employees knew that it was the beginning of the end. Zynga united 3 startups under the umbrella of Zynga New York and then took out the leadership (Dan Porter,) 2 weeks before launching DrawSomething 2. The team was disheartened to say the least.
In his letter to the company, CEO Mark Pincus cited "generous severance packages that reflect our appreciation for all of their work." Because OMGPOP was a cash acquisition, fortunately (depreciating) Zynga stock was "only an added bonus," the former employee said. OMGPOP staffers were given cash bonuses upon acquisition and "0.25 of stocks on the one year mark."
The retention issues that Zynga has faced on its executive level also plagued its New York office. Area/Code cofounder Frank Lantz and former general manager Demetri Detsaridis left Zynga New York this March, roughly two years after their startup was acquired. According to the former employee:
Almost every company that was acquired by Zynga made an outstanding game. In the case of OMGPOP it was DrawSomething. There was a quick decline in creativity and innovation that occurred after the acquisition. Whether it's being forced to use central tech that adheres to low standards or making product decisions that don't benefit the user. Simply put, not letting the talent that drove the acquisition in the first place, do what they know how to do best. If Zynga HQ would have been hands-off, all these small companies would keep innovating and probably making more hit games.
Product decisions were blocked by legal. DrawSomething2 was limited to 13+ when there was really no reason to limit it, on the contrary younger users were some of the prime users of DrawSomething. When working on a product it is crucial to keep agility and speed in decision making process. We quickly found ourselves implementing a set of corporate rules from legal to design instead of doing what serves the product and our users best.
Perhaps Pincus, in all his temperance, can allocate some of that $1.5 billion toward updating this system.
Update: Zynga has a separate office in New York for a small advertising team, which is where Price worked. No one in that office was affected by the layoffs.