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Zynga


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#1 dpadam450   Members   -  Reputation: 889

Posted 01 February 2014 - 09:03 PM

I really don't get this company. So I applied to Buzz Monkey when I was unemployed over 2 years ago. I'm thankful I didn't get the job because they got bought out by Zynga a year later, and then had layoffs a year later in June 2013. About 1 1/2 years ago I was also looking at Zynga Seattle. And just last week that studio was shut down.  The first round of layoffs was 520 people, and now I believe it is another 300. I dodged 2 bullets so far and am definitely dodging a 3rd bullet now:

What bothers me is I was talking to Zynga Orlando, that is looking to staff up to like 100 people asap. WTF is up with this company? Why don't they use existing resources, why do they buy companies and dump them. They just bought another company last week which I would bet they layoff or close in 2 years. And now they have this Orlando studio which sounds like they are doing exactly what Zynga Seattle was doing.

What is also funny is as I talked to them they were extremely surprised I currently had a job (like 3 comments about it right at the beginning of chatting with them). After thinking about it I was wondering if they get some crazy tax credits when hiring unemployed people. I know my current job did that when I came on board, they got a tax credit for hiring me. I just was like maybe they only hire unemployed people to get tax credits, and then anticipate laying off hundreds of people all the time so they can hire different unemployed people and get more tax credits. It just sounds strange all around. 800 jobs lost in a year? I don't think I could ever go to Zynga and I'm trying to figure out the "acquire and fire" mentality/strategy.


Edited by dpadam450, 01 February 2014 - 09:04 PM.


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#2 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9601

Posted 01 February 2014 - 09:25 PM


What is also funny is as I talked to them they were extremely surprised I currently had a job (like 3 comments about it right at the beginning of chatting with them).

 

Well, I wouldn't read too much into that. It's much easier to find people who want to get hired in games and are unemployed than it is to find people who want to get hired in games and have a game job already. There could be lots of other reasons for them to be surprised about that.


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#3 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 20379

Posted 01 February 2014 - 10:04 PM

What bothers me is I was talking to Zynga Orlando, that is looking to staff up to like 100 people asap. WTF is up with this company? Why don't they use existing resources, why do they buy companies and dump them.

Business is interesting.

Sometimes it is based on location, one place is overstaffed and another place is understaffed, and the company doesn't want to pay to relocate. Sometimes it is a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. Sometimes it is the case of wanting to dump a mediocre team. Sometimes it is inexperience of younger management.

Sometimes it is done for publicity reasons, there is a bad earnings report and they feel the urge to fire people to manage their stocks. Sometimes seasonal layoffs provide a convenient way to get rid of worse or troublesome employees without terminating them individually.

Sometimes a large project gets cancelled (which is a rather complex thing itself) and a studio finds themselves with too many workers and not enough projects; if they cannot find a project quickly they will either need to pay people to be less productive (or non-productive) or have some layoffs. Depending on the quality of the team and the difficulty of replacing their talents and skills, it may be better in the long run to keep the people around doing lesser tasks while a new project is ramped up.

The reasons companies buy studios and quickly close them vary widely. Sometimes they just wanted to acquire some specific technologies or key individuals. Sometimes the market shifted in ways that weren't anticipated. Sometimes and anticipated shift didn't happen. Each time it happens it is going to have a different story behind it.

It is fairly uncommon for a game studio to dump a well-working established team and simultaneously hire a new, nearly identical team. It does happen, and I've seen it happen too often with inexperienced managers who would rather search the world to headhunt people with (for example) 12 months PS4 experience (those who worked on pre-release hardware) rather than train their existing PS3 development team. The ones who I have discussed it with have all said later it was an expensive mistake after considering layoff severance costs, hiring and relocation and training costs, and higher salary of headhunting an expert. Fortunately most managers aren't that foolish, but it does happen.

It is frustrating for more people than just you as the outsider. Those who remain and watch their talented co-workers lose their jobs for no seemingly rational reasons have it difficult and team morale usually plummets after layoffs; but even those aren't the most frustrated. Those who were laid off, notice the same studio is hiring for the same job they were doing, and when they call back are told they will not be considered because they don't have next-gen experience (in spite of a 10+ year work history on their predecessors) are perhaps the most frustrated of all.
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#4 Nypyren   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4190

Posted 01 February 2014 - 11:06 PM

I have a friend that works at Zynga.  He got laid off in the previous layoffs, then they hired him back about 8 months later for the same position.  What kind of sense does that make?



#5 Moe   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1248

Posted 01 February 2014 - 11:10 PM

 

What bothers me is I was talking to Zynga Orlando, that is looking to staff up to like 100 people asap. WTF is up with this company? Why don't they use existing resources, why do they buy companies and dump them.

Business is interesting.

*snip*

 

 

Sounds to me like a heck of a lot of mismanagement.



#6 dpadam450   Members   -  Reputation: 889

Posted 01 February 2014 - 11:52 PM

7 months, over 800 employees, and now they buy a new studio and want to start another one. No logic in it.



#7 ISDCaptain01   Members   -  Reputation: 1380

Posted 02 February 2014 - 12:59 AM

Looks like Don Mattrick is doing the job right. He nearly brang Xbox down to its knees, and now Zyga.

#8 samoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4685

Posted 02 February 2014 - 08:00 AM

I can only guess that firing people and hiring others who are hungry for a job a month or two later when you need them is cheaper, at least from a short-sighted point of view. If everythng you do is based on short-term exploitation (which seems to be the case with Zynga) this may work out.

 

Though of course the need to transition work to them costs non-neglegible time and money, which makes this somewhat of a two-edged sword.



#9 Shippou   Members   -  Reputation: 1471

Posted 02 February 2014 - 08:00 AM

Zynga doesn't have the cash reserves to stay open much longer.

They lost $25 million USD in Q4 2013

They are expected to loose over $160 million USD in Q1 2014.

 

 With current cash reserves at $1.1 billion USD, they are estimated to be able to operate for another 9 quarters (2 years, 3 months ) before going insolvent .


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#10 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 20379

Posted 02 February 2014 - 08:27 AM

Their new cash money gambling investment is starting to pay dividends, and assuming they stay on the right side of the law running a digital casino can be extremely profitable. Imagine cities like Vegas or Atlantic City with their big casino rows, only the huge facilities, hotels, and tourist attractions remain as big piles of cash.

The decisions of hiring and firing, including firing someone and a short time later re-hiring them on the same team doing exactly the same function, is not necessarily a sign of bad management. Some management needs to be focused on the short term. Some management needs to be focused on the long term. A business that is struggling and sees themselves on a long term cliff will make decisions based on that, and look for ways to cut costs immediately. Since salary is the biggest cost, mass layoffs are the order of the day. Once the crisis is over and the longer term looks more stable it will tend to make decisions based on maintenance and growth, often involving hiring. Laying someone off for 8 months may seem odd, but once layoff costs and hiring costs are removed it may equate to a $100,000 savings per person. (Salary is only part of a person's cost to a company.) Do that for 10 people and you've helped the corporate bottom line by a million dollars.

Zynga is having to re-invent themselves, all companies do this with varying frequency, but I don't think they are facing a death knell right now.
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#11 Luckless   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1767

Posted 02 February 2014 - 11:53 AM

Not to mention that employment is still fairly weak overall. If you lay someone off now, even if you are happy with their work but you can't utilize them to a strong profit potential, then odds are in 8 months you might still be able to hire them again to the same position. And even if that person can't be hired the odds are good that you can find someone of equal skill looking for a position in short order. Assuming the person you let go was fairly average.


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#12 tstrimple   Prime Members   -  Reputation: 1718

Posted 04 February 2014 - 11:08 AM

It's a really stupid set of moves by a company with more cash than sense. Hiring (and subsequently training) people is one of the most expensive things a company can do. Any smart company leans this and goes out of their way to reduce turnover and improve their hiring process. The fact that they layoff and hire so quickly is a sign to me that their management is inexperienced and / or not talking to each other. If one part of the company is understaffed, and one is overstaffed... there should be a solution that doesn't require laying off 500 and immediately hiring 100 more.



#13 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 20379

Posted 05 February 2014 - 07:48 AM


The fact that they layoff and hire so quickly is a sign to me that their management is inexperienced and / or not talking to each other. If one part of the company is understaffed, and one is overstaffed... there should be a solution that doesn't require laying off 500 and immediately hiring 100 more.

You don't have all the information. That is your interpretation based on the information you have. 

 

Based on my experience I have seen some cases where both firing and hiring at the same time can make perfect sense. Software developers are not interchangeable cogs. There are times when it is best to bring in experts. There are times when it is best to migrate people from one area to another. There are times when it is best to dump an entire team and start from scratch.

 

The people with the most information are going to be the executives at Zynga, but even they don't have ALL the information. They make choices based on the information they have. The management is experienced enough to know the costs both of hiring and of firing, and it is quite likely they took those costs into account in their confidential business plans.  They didn't invite you (or me) to review their confidential business plans, so I'm going to reserve judgement on its wisdom.


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#14 tstrimple   Prime Members   -  Reputation: 1718

Posted 05 February 2014 - 10:53 AM

The people with the most information are going to be the executives at Zynga, but even they don't have ALL the information. They make choices based on the information they have. The management is experienced enough to know the costs both of hiring and of firing, and it is quite likely they took those costs into account in their confidential business plans.  They didn't invite you (or me) to review their confidential business plans, so I'm going to reserve judgement on its wisdom.

 

I have worked with and for too many companies (large and small, successful and not) to assume competence at the executive level at Zynga or pretty much any company.



#15 dpadam450   Members   -  Reputation: 889

Posted 06 February 2014 - 12:22 AM

 

They didn't invite you (or me) to review their confidential business plans, so I'm going to reserve judgement on its wisdom.

But we do know their business plans, make mobile games. Paid, F2P or microtransactions. Nothing has changed and they are firing and hiring for the same exact business model for near identical products.



#16 JDX_John   Members   -  Reputation: 284

Posted 06 February 2014 - 05:05 PM

 

The people with the most information are going to be the executives at Zynga, but even they don't have ALL the information. They make choices based on the information they have. The management is experienced enough to know the costs both of hiring and of firing, and it is quite likely they took those costs into account in their confidential business plans.  They didn't invite you (or me) to review their confidential business plans, so I'm going to reserve judgement on its wisdom.

 

I have worked with and for too many companies (large and small, successful and not) to assume competence at the executive level at Zynga or pretty much any company.

 

Meh. Lots of people think their boss is incompetent. Most think their boss' boss is incompetent. Virtually everyone thinks the top level execs are incompetent... just as virtually everyone thinks they can make better calls than the coach/manager of their favourite sports team, or the politicians running the company.

 

Sometimes people at lower levels work their way through the tech-ceiling and end up as execs. Then they get to be regarded as incompetent too. 


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#17 tstrimple   Prime Members   -  Reputation: 1718

Posted 07 February 2014 - 12:05 PM

Meh. Lots of people think their boss is incompetent. Most think their boss' boss is incompetent. Virtually everyone thinks the top level execs are incompetent... just as virtually everyone thinks they can make better calls than the coach/manager of their favourite sports team, or the politicians running the company.

 

 

Sometimes people at lower levels work their way through the tech-ceiling and end up as execs. Then they get to be regarded as incompetent too. 

 

 

I don't think it's quite as simple as that. I have definitely met and worked with some fantastic managers and executives. However, just like in every type of work, they are the exception. The majority of people do just enough to get by and work for short term benefit versus real healthy growth. 



#18 samoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4685

Posted 07 February 2014 - 01:44 PM

 

 

The people with the most information are going to be the executives at Zynga, but even they don't have ALL the information. They make choices based on the information they have. The management is experienced enough to know the costs both of hiring and of firing, and it is quite likely they took those costs into account in their confidential business plans.  They didn't invite you (or me) to review their confidential business plans, so I'm going to reserve judgement on its wisdom.

 

I have worked with and for too many companies (large and small, successful and not) to assume competence at the executive level at Zynga or pretty much any company.

 

Meh. Lots of people think their boss is incompetent. Most think their boss' boss is incompetent. Virtually everyone thinks the top level execs are incompetent... just as virtually everyone thinks they can make better calls than the coach/manager of their favourite sports team, or the politicians running the company.

 

Sometimes people at lower levels work their way through the tech-ceiling and end up as execs. Then they get to be regarded as incompetent too. 

Not assuming competence (or intelligence) at executive level is not far fetched.

 

Not only is the mere existence of an "executive summary" (read as: abstract for totally unaware dummies) tell-tale, but I can confirm that the vast majority of executives aren't precisely the most competent or intelligent people both from my own experience and from what I get to hear from my wife (who happens to be an executive) every day.

 

As in, there's that customer who doesn't want to pay the 75k bill because <insert lame excuse>, but they promise to sign a 2.5 million contract, I guess we should just waive these 75k. Right, like they're going to pay that, or as if one would want to have a customer like this.

Meet with 5 people, and waste 4 hours on discussing nonsense like this with these assholes, solely because their gigantic egos can't admit that they've made a bad deal. Come out of that meeting with nothing you didn't know before. But hey, we're the greatest guys in the world. In the universe, says I.

 

I know executives who don't know how to do a phone call without help, and who don't know the difference between replying to the sender of an email and replying to all recipients. The same people will refuse to hire an extra hand when their team can't cope with the workload because the company needs to economize. But they're not considering travelling business class or taking the train (which is +/- 30 minutes) on a 600km trip. Which they do just for having lunch with another executive.

But hey, travelling business class is disgraceful. Business class is for, like, you know... monkeys and the like.

 

Of course you could teach a monkey to use a phone, other than an executive...


Edited by samoth, 07 February 2014 - 01:45 PM.


#19 conq   Members   -  Reputation: 337

Posted 07 February 2014 - 01:56 PM

I've never worked in game dev professionally, but as a high level team lead/CTO, you always want to get rid of your lowest to average performers.

The reason for this is that if you hire someone else for the position, there's a chance of them being an over performer. Under performers and average performers can be dropped again anyway.

 

It's really just a strategic decision to try and increase the talent pool, without having to train people for years.

 

Not that the companies I work for perform this kind of crap, though. In business dev companies tend to treat people like human beings.



#20 Dream Cutter   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 211

Posted 10 February 2014 - 10:48 PM

Against all odds, looks like the Game Developers and the Players achieve a win-win with Zynga .. its not official, but tweets are whispering that components a feasible deal may have been established and agreed in principal -  Big Viking Games may have just bought back YoVille.  If this is true its an astonishing accomplishment for BVG and the gaming community.  

 

Imagine if this happened with Hollywood - Now where are the Star Wars fans; this should have happened before that well before the Clones...

 

http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/social-media/game-thousands-yovillers-rally-doomed-virtual-town-n25001


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