Former Zynga Employees Tell All: Inside the Copycat Culture, Severance Packages, and Drunken Layoff Party


Earlier this week, Zynga slashed over 520 jobs in its New York City offices, and now, a former ‘Zyngite’ is hosting an AMA on Reddit, according to Valleywag. Not surprisingly, the gossip is juicy.

First, the positives: the anonymous Redditer notes that the snacks were pretty clutch: “the basics were granola bars, cookies, liquorish bites, kettle chips, pop chips, pretzel bites, hard boiled eggs, cereal, nuts, chex mix, coffee and tea.” But, “once the Redbull and Odwalla went away, everything went downhill. “

The developer also reveals that the the company had very literally stopped innovating after initial successes, giving “too much credence … to ‘tried and true’ strategies based on potentially incorrect assumptions from data gathering.” He (or she) said that the stifling top-down management focused on “an overreliance of every game being a blockbuster hit…if some games jump to the Top Grossing Charts then everyone needs to drop everything and change to follow it.”

Sounds like the company fell victim to the ‘dictatorship of data,’ just as the MIT Technology Review predicted. The race for blockbusters, of course, led to blatant copy-catting, which the company has already been lambasted for over and over.  The Redditer explains that “towards the end of my time it was not so much that games were straight up ripped off, but key features would be.”

For severance, engineers received four months salary plus an additional week’s salary for each year worked.

The Reddit commentary is pretty consistent with other accounts of the waning morale in the staff’s final weeks. A former employee told Business Insider that there was ‘no real explanation, just corporate BS’ during the layoffs,’ and ‘you could almost feel things were slowing down.’ The fired employees apparently got drunk in the office, tore up all Zynga gear while packing up their belongings, and headed across the street to a local bar to continue the celebration — overall, about as positive a layoff experience as you could hope for.

Can’t say the same for overlord Mark Pincus — public trading for Zynga has since dropped to a measly $2.97 from around $3.40.