Zynga insiders condemn crunch culture

Zynga insiders condemn crunch culture

By Rob Crossley

November 29th 2011 at 11:18AM

Social giant 'managed by the very same people who ran EA into the ground five years ago'

On the cusp of its long-awaited IPO, Zynga is facing accusations of questionable work ethics and a culture of crunch at its San Francisco office.

The social games giant, which has fought for Wall Street’s continued interest during a luckless and protracted stock market launch, now appears to be the subject of censure from its own staff at the eleventh hour of that bid.

Resentful employees are spilling out with criticisms of excessive workloads, late nights, weekend work and a poor work-life balance.

One person claims to have been “told by my manager that if I am not at home sleeping, then I am here working. That is how I was welcomed to the team”.

The person claimed Zynga has the “worst HR department I have ever witnessed. It was heart breaking how much employees suffer due inability of this unprofessional group to do their job”.

The insider added that Zynga’s management division is “all the ex Electronic Arts VPs – the very same people who ran EA into the ground 5 years ago. Now they have brought their same lack of initiatives to Zynga and it shows”.

The detailed comments, issued anonymously, appear on Glassdoor; a career network that has to verify accounts via email before publication.

One staffer said “you'll work 8-18 hours per day 5-7 days per week” at the firm.

“Company leaders demand creativity of employees after overworking them, and ignores most ideas that don't follow the same technique that most of their games currently use,” the person continued, adding that there was “not much of a social life”.

The review went on: “Co-workers are grumpy because they've been overworked, the code base is a mess and slows down your development/debugging, but you're expected to still get everything done right away. Many people are planning on leaving after they go public to cash out. Although you work with smart people, that transfer of knowledge doesn't really happen. Management rushes games. Employees know their making the same crappy games and spamming players.”

Another said Zynga’s management arm “has questionable morals”.

The insider continued: “Once a quarter we'll work a few weekends. The work is dull. The code is a mess and hard to work with due to rushed schedules. Too many junior developers making poor decisions.”

The person advised senior management to not make people work weekends.

Though there was unanimity on the monetary perks Zynga offers – such as salary bonuses each quarter – the suggestion is that the work-life balance is poor.

“After you get in there is no personal life, always working till late,” another said.

And a further review: “Poor leadership and communication. Awful work-life balance. No real value placed on keeping everyone in on-going education or in any sort of career path.”

Zynga has yet to comment on the matter.

The firm’s IPO could lead to a mass exodus of staff, according to Electronic Art’s head of HR.

Gabrielle Toledano told the New York Times that the upcoming IPO and the way the company allegedly treats its staff could mean competitors will poach its employees with more enticing offers.

“I expect a lot of game and tech companies will begin recruiting Zynga’s talent after their equity becomes liquid,” said Toledano.