Over at Business Insider, Alyson Shontell’s article pretty much lays out the entire Zynga staff layoff of its New York office. Thanks to beer, blaring music, and Zynga hoodie and t-shirt shredding parties, it probably felt better than it should have.
Still, the effect is the same.
Monday afternoon, Zynga New York’s 45 employees were called in to a mid-afternoon meeting, wherein a blonde, perfectly-coifed executive drone flown in from California informed them that the New York office would be closing down and that almost everyone—save for a small transition team—would be out of a job. Not that this was unexpected. The April departure of Dan Porter—who’d helped land a US$200 million sale for the company in 2012—as well as the departure of the New York office’s head game designer and head producer had indicated that the company was on shaky ground.
This only confirmed what everyone expected to happen.
Amid the 45 New York layoffs, Zynga also shed its immensely successful OMGPOP team, creators of Draw Something, which had gone from zero to 30 million users almost overnight in 2012 before being acquired by Zynga. Members of the team, which had once been a Zynga crown jewel, cited feeling ignored and underutilized within the company. They expected a heady workload and instead were given nothing more than a few bugs to chase after in a given day.
Yes, Zynga reflects a game company that exploded to previously unheard-of heights and is now crashing down, but it also points to failures that can happen in any software company.
After spending $210 million to acquire OMGPOP, Zynga left the original staff almost without assignment on a day-to-day basis. Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, it felt as if Draw Something’s audience had “lost a lot of engagement” after Zynga’s acquisition of OMGPOP, the newness of the title having worn off and the sequel not exploding like wildfire as Zynga had hoped it would.
It could have been the wrong place, the wrong time, the wrong environment, or all of the above, but this feels as if an extremely talented group of developers was acquired, brought in and given almost nothing to work with, especially after an incredibly large sum of money had been spent to acquire their intellectual property. From there, no one knew what to do or how to push Draw Something to become an incredible mobile hit while Zynga itself struggled to answer whether it was a social, desktop or mobile company.
Granted, the majority of the New York office staff reportedly has new jobs on the horizon, but with Zynga now shedding 18% of its staff (approximately 500 people) nationwide and the company having lost approximately $17 billion in its corporate evaluation, it feels as if Zynga has become a case study of a shaky corporation taking hundreds of extremely talented people down with it, with the brakes having shattered, the throttle pinned down, the train having derailed, and the company heading toward a path consisting of the petting zoo, the orphanage, the old folks’ home and straight off the nearest cliff.
Still, Zynga’s failure is your lesson. Look around you, realize the talent you have waiting to be unleashed, how it can learn and grow, and make the very most of it, sans astounding corporate failure. Hindsight will always be 20/20, and the OMGPOP team could have created something truly incredible at Zynga had it been unfettered and free to work the way in which it was accustomed.
Not every previously-valued-at-$20-billion corporation will make the right decisions all the time, and if Zynga just created another vicious startup competitor by letting the OMGPOP team go, it probably had it coming….