Zynga, the famous maker of the network of virtual cities, farms, and poker tables; the beloved CityVille, FarmVille and Mafia Wars, receives praise for the company’s swift success but also gets a warning from employees that are frustrated over the demanding workplace.
Mark Pincus, the company’s chief executive received dozens of emails last month from various company-worker complaints regarding the stressful deadline periods and long hours. There were a total of 1,600 responses solicited from the quarterly staff survey that were full of criticism. In a company meeting later, Pincus mentioned that he was aware of the problems however; he needs the guidance of the staff to fix them.
Zynga is one of the few Internet startups that grew swiftly in the market. It is the largest social game company on the Web. The company reported $828.9 million in revenue from January to September this year which is double than the profit it earned same period of last year. Zynga will also be presenting its initial public offering this year.
As for the work environment, Zynga runs like a federation of city-states. It has autonomous teams in charge for each game. Weak links are demoted if not let go, managers track progress and employees log long hours. Zynga’s roughly 3,000 employees are being tracked for their progress. There is an “objectives and key results” system that assesses that company’s priorities every quarter. And general managers submit reports every week that include customer satisfaction and traffic measures of Zynga’s games.
This culture brought Zynga to its success but for several former senior employees of the company, this can also be a serious liability. If this conflict in the company continues, it may risk Zynga’s ability to retain top talent especially now that Silicon Valley startups are fiercely recruiting engineers and executives. Moreover, this can also hinder deal-making which is critical for the growth of Zynga.
As the I.P.O is coming near, various technology and game companies are also preparing to recruit Zynga’s talent. According to Electronic Arts human resources head Gabrielle Toledano, competitors will offer creative people more compelling opportunities. He expects that after Zynga’s equity becomes liquid, recruiting firms will make their move.
In past two years, Zynga spent around $119 million in acquisitions. However, in July it lost a bid for PopCap when rumors of fierce internal competition and rescinding share awards came out. Other startups also refused Zynga’s offers this year. One of them is Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds.
Since there is a mandatory quiet period before Zynga’s I.P.O, the company declined to give any comment regarding the matter.