On Sunday, the New York Times’ Dealbook finance vertical—increasingly focused on tech IPOs, naturally—unrolled a monster story by writer Evelyn M. Rusli about just how toxic the culture of Zynga can be to employees, and how it’s hurt the company’s potential growth opportunities. It’s an utterly fantastic read. But—as one Betabeat tipster pointed out to us—the best moment in the piece was missed by many, because it was buried in the 29th paragraph, in a story with 38 paragraphs.
Again, it’s important to keep in mind that the thrust of the piece this comes from concerns Zynga’s efforts to clean up its reputation for internal volatility and hostile work conditions, as they ready themselves for the “road show” of their forthcoming public stock offering. In case you can’t tell, tech IPOs are being eyed with slightly more pronounced skepticism in the wake of Groupon’s third week humiliation; in the leadup to the Groupon IPO, much attention was paid to whether or not outspoken Groupon founder Andrew Mason would be able to curb his behavior for potential underwriters (regardless of the way Groupon has performed, well, he did).
Surely, though, when Zynga takes their company on the road, anyone who’s read this anecdote about the way Zynga courts talent will likely consider it an important part of the composite, for better or worse:
In the spring of 2009, Zynga was courting MyMiniLife, a game company that later developed the underlying technology for FarmVille and many of Zynga’s games. During one meeting, the topic turned to compensation. A Zynga senior vice president, clad in jeans and leather cowboy boots, whipped out his wallet and a stack of hundred-dollar bills. He chucked the money at a MyMiniLife founder and asked him if that was enough, said one person present at the meeting.
“It was insulting,” this person said.
To briefly editorialize: What. An. Asshole.
To briefly editorialize again: It’s worth noting that these are the kinds of war stories that actually go far in holding certain persons in high regard on Wall Street. Regardless of the violent assholery on display here, or even Groupon’s recent crumbling, they’re probably gonna do really, really well on the road. Vaya con dios. Mafia Wars for everyone.
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