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Turning down Zynga: Why I opted out of the $210M Omgpop buy (gamasutra.com)
340 points by newobj on Mar 27, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 113 comments

Like the guy said, he lost a job. Nothing more. A developer from a company that was bought for >$200 million surely won't have a problem finding a job somewhere else if he wants (not to mention he also worked for Blizzard). He deserves all the respects for not letting himself be carried away, and making a decision with his heart. That's something you don't see often nowadays.

You have my respect, Shay Pierce.

> Like the guy said, he lost a job. Nothing more.

Exactly. The headline is wildly misleading - he didn't opt out of the buy-out, his small equity stake was bought. The value of the buy-out is irrelevant, and it's unlikely that the offer he got was off-the-charts above what he could get somewhere else - He said it was a standard offer, so most likely it was what he made before + n%.

I also feel that the article was very well written and set an excellent tone in discussing the decision, with respect for the other party, with no personal attacks or other techniques trying to elicit an emotional response.

It came across as very professional to me.

The argument given was also understandable and deserving of my respect.

You now have my $0.99, Shay Pierce.

Apple has your $0.29 and Shay Pierce has your $0.70... unless you just sent him a $0.99 donation =]

A true, if slightly pedantic point. I naturally defer. :)

Just to pile on more here, the government has another $0.20, so he only really has your $0.50.

I actually did buy his game too. Seems like something I would enjoy playing :)

mine too

And my axe! errr I mean my $0.99 as well.

Hi, Reddit!

Heh I know I'm sorry. The LotR fan in me cannot be contained. I'll try harder in the future.

Was he really using 100% heart here or capitalizing on the gravity of the situation to slingshot himself in to the limelight and boost his app sales and reputation? That's the feeling I got from this post at least.

Surely there were other developers who had "side projects" they really loved who happily went with Zynga. I really have to question why this guy was the _only_ one who didn't jump ship. Sure you can write a post claiming to be the white knight and not another corporate zombie like the rest, but that's very rarely the case.

I see this as a power play. Instead of being a "Zynga acquisition", I think he saw it as much more beneficial to be the David vs. Goliath. Good for him, I guess.

This seems like an exceptionally cynical perspective. While I don't suggest we should ever stop questioning things or explore what possible motivations could be involved, I'd love to see less of this automatically accusing people of having perceptually negative motivations that don't have any empirical evidence to support them.

He seems to be pretty clear that he heavily debated the idea with himself and ultimately realized that his long term beef with the way he understands Zynga to operate doesn't work for him. The rejection of his addendum seemed like it was just icing on the cake. He deserves the praise he's getting for being honest with himself and the reader, not accused of making a "power play" just because you, or anyone else, can't rationalize the decision any other way. This is the kind of reaction that keeps us from having nice things.

It read to me as a bit of both. He had reservations (who wouldn't) but he'd also already had the taste for working for himself.

So he's simultaneously got a reminder that his own work is important to him, a bit of breathing room from his chunk of the buyout and an opportunity to start off with a bit of a "bang" PR-wise.

What entrepreneur would pass up on that?

I think he's pretty clever for using the very tiny window of opportunity to gather some publicity for himself. Remember, the guy just lost his job.

I think he makes a particularly strong point about Zynga's unwillingness to change their standard contract to let him keep control of his iPhone app.

If a company's not willing to be flexible about something like this, then it is the last place you want to be working.

It makes Zynga look arrogant, inflexible and downright mean.

I don't have any experience with acquisations, so I'd like to ask how common this is.

If a big company buys a small company, how common is it do contract negotations with the employees of the small company? or is the "take it or leave" approach the norm?

In all honesty, from Zynga's point of view, in this specific case, it wasn't worth the headache of dealing with a non-standard contract.

Sometimes, acquisitions are for talent reasons, sometimes it is for product reasons. In the former, you buy a company specifically to acquire a person (or people). Those people are aware of this & have some negotiating power. Similarly, in the latter, the acquiring company might want to keep the product team in tact (at least for a short while), so they might have some power, but in both cases, the other people are more or less on their own with a "take it or leave it" type of offer with very minimal room for negotiation. There will be examples counter to this, but this is in my experience (mostly from the "big company" POV).

Exactly - it makes zero sense for Zynga to accept all kinds of special requests and addendums so that everyone is on board. Big companies do bend but only in cases when there's no alternatives.

Actually, it makes plenty of sense -- if what you're after is talented and thoughtful people.

Here's a guy who has enough mojo that he produced a well-reviewed game on his own. That's exactly the kind of person I like to hire because they can think broadly about the work in a way that many people can't. Zynga obviously doesn't want employees devoting significant time to competing with them. But leaving the game up does no harm. So they negotiate the exception, file the paragraph away for when this comes up again, and everybody's happy.

What we learn from this is that they don't really want people this smart and creative. They want somebody mindlessly obedient who will go and do the dubious things Zynga does.

True. But look at it from the perspective of the big company - they thrive on process more than empowerment and creativity. Btw, don't get me wrong, I am not defending Zynga. I lost all respec for that company after they asked some early employees to turn over their shares because they did not deserve as much as they held.

I think it depends on what you mean by "thrive". Humans with power like to consolidate power and suppress the emergence of threats to their power. But lack of innovation (or ability to even recognize the need for innovation) is a major killer of corporations in the long term.

So I think it's more accurate to say that managers thrive on process more than empowerment, because a lot of companies are functionally equivalent to feudal empires in their social structure.

I call bullshit. A contact is always between separate parties and is always able to be adjusted and changed. Their 'you don't matter enough for us to take your needs into account' approach is totally reflective of their culture of behaving badly, if they valued the team as people not just numbers there is no way the few dollars it would have cost a lawyer to clarify the intent of the wording of a single section of a single contract would not have been totally reasonable.

I'd also say that the expected cost of recruiting a new programmer to replace him - assuming they want to do so - is likely to be significantly more expensive in both money and elapsed time than negotiating the contract addendum.

Of course, refusing to negotiate has the effect of establishing a particular kind of power relationship with the potential employee, which could be one of their goals.

That's the problem. They just didn't care enough to accommodate the change. If they really wanted the guy they would have said ok. But I guess he was just a number for Zynga and not a human being and valuable team member. While I understand why it doesn't make sense for a big company to be flexible in such negotiations I still find it sad that companies don't value enough the talent that comes their way.

Every company that has given me an offer has been willing to modify my contract to some extent, and I don't think I'm special. This includes big game development start ups, established independent studios and developers owned by large publishers. Having a list of exclusions, especially for preexisting work, is standard in the game industry afaik and doesn't require special requests in most cases.

I means they wanted you on the team. We also do the same and accept custom requests because we want the people to join our company. We are not indifferent to people. Fo some companies, though, especially those more focused on financial engineering than creating customer value prefer the my way or the highway approach. As I said in another comment for hem you are just a number.

It probably would have gone differently if he was a developer on the game that was the target of the takeover. Since he wasn't (according to the article), they don't want to bother with it. Sad, but takeovers are never really clean.

To do this would make acquisitions all but impossible, if every last whim was adhered to. No company does that, not zynga, FB, google, no one.

Especially in Zynga's case, when they are quite used to people having side projects. What the author didn't mention was that Z has a standard Prior Inventions addendum. I should know, our company was acquired by Zynga, and 100% of the offer letters were accepted. Several of us had prior works and side projects, including my cofounder, and we simply listed them.

What he wanted sounds like some specific addendum that called out his app and maybe made some forward looking promises about it... Or... Something.

Excellent article and good on you for sticking to your principles.

"But I exhort game developers: don't join a company whose values are opposed to your own. Values aren't just for idealists -- they matter. If a company's practices make you uncomfortable, pay attention to your instincts and be true to them."

Replace "game developers" with "developers" or even "humans" and it still works.

If guess it means we should resist the temptation of money and do the "right" thing, whenever we could. It's a tough call (to reject money and so-called better prospect), but it's equally painful to work in something which you don't believe in. Though it might not make economical sense, but it makes perfect human sense.

I agree with you & OP that if you don't want to work for a company whose morals you disagree with, you should feel empowered to leave (I've done it myself). However, if these companies are surrounded by "yes men", nothing will ever change. There is value (righteousness, even), if you ever find yourself in such a situation, to stay with the company & challenge the "evil" status quo.

There are two ways to lead by example in this situation. One is to walk away. The other is to breed change. Don't discredit the latter.

On one hand, breeding change is a brave and good stance.

On the other hand, most often than not, you'll be tilting at windmills.

You have to recognize when you have a real chance, and not fight a losing cause. I guess the standard advice works in this case as well: fail fast :)

I've ignored my own advice and am stuck on a company with a toxic IT department, I tried for years to change it, but upper management is not interested and the IT managers were clueless and only interested in keeping their jobs.

The third option is to start a disruptive new competitor doing what they do only better and more ethically, supporting long-term relationships and sustainable development.

As long as anyone but you holds the gold, it's much harder to engender change. Putting them out of business, on the other hand, has the awesome side effect of getting one rich while doing the right thing.

Unless you're broke.

Maybe. Back when the universe was fresh and new, I would call up spammers and talk with them. Every one had some song and dance about how broke they were. In their view, it wasn't their fault they were acting like assholes. It was just circumstances, just business.

Once you start screwing other people over for a living, it's a hard trap to get out of. Partly because that's now your expertise. And partly because your perception shifts. As Upton Sinclair said, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

There's nothing unreasonable about doing what is necessary to survive. You should keep your eyes open for something better, if that is the situation you find yourself in.

Aren't employees protected from this kind of crap in the US? In the UK, when a business is acquired, the employees must be offered work on the same terms as before.

So in this case, if his prior contract did not have the objectionable clause, the new employer may not add it.

Most US workers are considered at-will employees. There is no contract and either party can stop working with the other for almost any reason.

He mentioned he was in Texas, so this is indeed the case.

I happen to like the fact that the US does not work that way in most cases. Isn't it a bit humorous that UK laws so contort the employment relationship that an unwanted employee has to "be made redundant?"

No. People can be sacked for not doing their job in the UK, but if they've been employed for a certain length of time it is harder than in the US.

But then again, employees can also legally expect to receive a decent amount of holiday, and a number of other rights not accorded to those in the US.

And I think the state needs to stand up for employees, because (especially non-unionized) employees in most professions are never going to have the bargaining power to make it a fair relationship.

(I say this as an employer not an employee)

Don't you think that's changing quickly in the tech industry? Can you imagine one of your key developers leaving? Employees should earn their bargaining power by virtue of their merit, not because of inefficient unions or state-action.

Absolutely- in the case of the tech industry you're right.

But we have to remember that not every other industry works the same as ours.

Imagine an average mother working at the tills at Walmart. Is she ever going to be good enough at that job that she is going to earn 'bargaining power' by virtue of her merit?

No. Some jobs can be done without a huge amount of training, talent or skill. It is in the company's interest to push down pay and working conditions as much as possible (as the employee is easily replaceable). Therefore it is the state's job to set minimum standards.

"No. People can be sacked for not doing their job in the UK, but if they've been employed for a certain length of time it is harder than in the US."

Even then there are protections about sacking too many people at once. ie, you can't redefine an entire department's responsibilities and then sack them for not doing their new unrealistic job roles.

Once you meet a certain threshold of layoffs everyone has to go through the redundancy process of getting a pay-out, being offered services to find a new job, etc., etc.

(IANAL, IIRC, etc.)

Isn't "unwanted" exactly the same thing as "redundant" in this case?

The employment relationship (in the UK, at any rate) is a contractual arrangement between two parties. One side of that agreement can't opt out of their legal obligations by playing corporate musical chairs.

"When that 11 p.m. call came, the decision I'd feared was exactly the one I was being forced to make: Connectrode or a job with Zynga. I got off the phone and called my attorney."

This was the right move, although I wonder why it took until literally the 11th hour to make it. Now I don't know the circumstances so I don't know how long there was between the offer and the required acceptance, but I do know that the first thing you should do when you get such an offer, is take it to your attorney and tell them what you want out of the deal, and see if the agreement/contract gives you that. If not, you have your attorney draft an addendum and you add that. Then its a simple yes/no kind of thing.

Be aware that since most companies have already spent a bunch of legal $$ getting the original contract/offer written they are going to measure their willingness to accept it or negotiate based on how much they want you. If you are just one of the bunch, probably not at all, if you're special in some way, then perhaps some.

Take away is that you should not take it personally if they choose to say no, and it sounds like the author didn't take it personally. Lately at some big companies it seems like it would be best if your brought your attorney with you on the first day to go over the paperwork they ask you to sign, it is getting that complicated.

Is it usual for an acquiring company to give an exploding offer with a timescale of days (in the US)? Especially considering a $200M acquisition will have taken (and may continue to take) many months to complete .

I'm completely speculating here, but I imagine that Zynga didn't really care too much one way or the other if this guy took the job or not. Assuming that they're probably primarily interested in Draw Something, and given that this guy didn't work on Draw Something, then this guy is just another random programmer as far a Zynga is concerned. Had he been the inventor and lead designer of Draw Something they probably would have been more open to negotiation.

In my own limited experience, as well as what I've heard elsewhere, yes. I've never really gotten a good answer as to why, so my guess is that some M&A playbook somewhere says that giving people less time will make them less likely to try and negotiate.

I have a feeling this is more common when a big company buys a small one, and/or when it's not an explicit talent acquisition.

They can also piggyback and associate themselves on Draw Something's success, and promote it amongst their own users - which they may have seen their some of their userbase switching over to Draw Something, a game they didn't own or control. What's the value of losing that mindshare? I guess potentially $200+ million.

There is this magic process which always surprises me (really, I can't get used to it): the process of melting a well-performing team of strong and motivated individuals (not only software developers, but also including bizdevs, sales, etc.) into a monolithic sluggish disgusting structure promoting acquiescence and submission where you more value your payroll and pension plan than the actual work your doing every day.

It is really, really sad seeing these transformations affecting nearby companies almost every month. And it can be really sudden, it may take even 6 months to change your software think tank into a wannabe-corporation with timesheets and firewalls.

And I ask myself each time - is there a way to avoid this? I understand we need to standarize "the business" at some point to make it scalable but is it the only way? Can't we build seperate team of strong individuals and just allow them to do their best giving them some financing and office, and let them grow to a specific point of splittage? Wait, isn't it actually similar to what YC is doing?

What do you think? Don't we all dream of building a giant soul-eating monster at the of the road?

Not all. 37signals makes a common counter example.

I guess the message is simple: if you want your business to not either become or get acquired by a nasty big monolith, don't take VC funding.

I've yet to find another way.

There's an interesting angle in there that I think people are missing.

To recap: Shay seemed intent on preserving control over Connectrode, even though it wasn't making any money and going nowhere. But after getting turned down by Zynga, he had an epiphany: he had never applied to Zynga even though they are right there in Austin.

I've seen this happen a few times. When we don't want to do something, our conscious mind will come up with some excuse ("their cafeteria is not good, and I'm a strict vegan", or "they use python, and I'm a Perl guy", or something inane like that). But deep down we already know we don't want to do that; we're just coming up with some overt justification for our decision.

I'd be willing to bet that even if Zynga agreed to his terms, he wouldn't have joined. His gut told him it was not a good fit for a variety of reasons, many of which probably he himself doesn't know.

Moral of the story is: we should listen to our gut more often. It speaks very softly, but it's usually right.

Exactly! The dilemma with Connectrode is what brought Shay's deeper misgivings to the surface of his consciousness.

A big takeaway from this article is what one can learn from the example of Shay's all-too-uncommon level of insight. He should be credited for listening to his intuition, then making a logical, rational, and moral decision based on it.

Too often, people ignore that "quiet voice inside", much to the detriment of their moral and personal well-being.

> So what is "evil"? Can a company be evil?

An interesting point, made by a friend [1] recently at dinner: companies can't be evil.

Companies can't love, they can't be loyal or caring; they can't be malevolent or heartless. Only people can be those things.

What we mean when we label companies that way is that their employees have acted that way. It's ethical hackery to absolve someone of malevolent acts because they were in the service of an abstraction. We may still continue using that sort of short-hand, but it's important to remember that at the end of the day, a company that's being "evil" is really a bunch of individuals that are collectively and actively making decisions to hurt others.

1) http://twitter.com/tilladam

Corporations are (made up of) people, my friend! ;-)

The whole purpose of a company is to absolve the individuals involved of some legal consequences. I think right now we are having a debate over exactly how far that absolution extends.

I could imagine a situation where each individual was acting ethically, but the emergent behavior was still unethical. For example, each individual manager might be promoting the worker they feel is best-qualified for the job, but over-all hiring patterns end up being discriminatory due to small, unnoticed biases. Corporations are emergent systems, much like programs themselves. Race conditions, concurrency, stampeding herd dynamics, failing to have anyone be responsible for important considerations: all the downfalls of parallelism apply to human organizations as well.

"Corporations are (made up of) people, my friend! ;-)"

That's funny because for the past few months, my mind has replayed Romney's quote every time I've heard someone say 'corporation'. I don't know why, it just happens.

You make some good points, of course. A company is a single entity after all.

This ignores company culture, and the fact that people that reflect the company culture the most are the highest rewarded, and that often this culture is perpetuated by a small minority of individuals that control the companies.

I bet Cash4Gold has a ton of friendly ethical people working the lower ranks, but that doesn't balance out the fact that the entire organization is a scam.

> I bet Cash4Gold has a ton of friendly ethical people working the lower ranks

What you did there is the anti-thesis to my point though: if your job requires you to make specific decisions that you feel are hurting others, you are not absolved of that malevolence just because of "corporate culture". You are still an individual making decisions that you believe will hurt other people. (And that you'd be rewarded for such is even less morally relevant.) Naturally there tends to be more of that decision making power resting with the executives.

Culture is useful if we want to understand the context and root of ethical or unethical acts, but it doesn't whitewash them – most people don't believe that growing up in a tough neighborhood makes it ok to steal, even if it does give that act context.

most people don't believe that growing up in a tough neighborhood makes it ok to steal, even if it does give that act context.

So, when it's stealing or starving, and I'm offered a job at Cash4Gold, should I reject it?

Any rational person would accept, and live to pass on his/her genes.

Who says we're absolving the members of the employees? If you continue to strip away the abstractions, an evil person is just a collection of neurons and other cells that are collectively making decisions to hurt others, but it's still reasonable to call the person evil. Likewise I would argue that we can call a company "evil" if the people who make it up are acting in an evil way.

People absolve the companies all the time. "They're just employees, they don't make the policies." "Oh, yeah, Zynga's awful, but he's a good guy." Etc, etc.

I think that's factually true, but the moral implication is false. Nobody says, "Oh, it's not his fault the mob assigned him to break kneecaps. He doesn't set the policies, you know."

Right, what I meant was that this particular group of people here on HN doesn't seem prone to that, not that people in general don't do it.

I think companies can hold worldviews, which in themselves can be opposed to our own worldviews and therefore be 'evil'.

I view Apple's stance on intellectual property to be 'evil', the fact that they would rather use lawyers than engineers, reduce competition rather than increase it to win their battles, it's an 'evil' concept to me, which is why I will never use apple and always give my opinion to family members on why to avoid them when asked.

Technically they're not a person and cannot have any standing, but the worldviews of the culture, when sufficiently opposed to our own, are indistinguishable from 'evil'

>It views players as weak-minded cash cows; and it views its developers as expendable, replaceable tools to create the machines that milk those cows.

>Because the company's values are completely opposed to my own values, professionally and creativel

>An evil company is trying to get rich quick, and has no regard for the harm they're doing along the way

Why does he not give any examples of how Zynga is evil? Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to defend them. I honestly don't even know and now I'm curious. The only thing I know about Zynga is from their stock revoking mess that occurred around the IPO.

Well, "evil" is fairly subjective and often times depends on what side of the table you are on, as I think he points out in the article.

As for specific reasons why they could be viewed as such, there are plenty out there already. Here's an AMA with a previous engineer that doesn't paint a pretty picture:


He did. He had 2 links at the top of the paragraph where he said "Zynga has been called "evil" by both industry pundits and former employees."



There's also the Tiny Towers/Dream Heights debacle where Zynga essentially ripped off the entire game.

I purchased a copy of his game to support him as an independent developer. As developer who has released games in the Appstore I know what it takes to bring your projects to fruition and can understand why he does not want to let his game die. I must say it's actually a great game and deserving if you're 99¢. I wish him luck and I hope he does great with his company.

You have to applaud the author for his due diligence.

Job contracts are frequently overly zealous and heavily biased in favour of the employer, rather than the employee. Conflicts of interest are sometimes hard to spot. I have been in this situation, and it isn't pleasant.

Always qualify and question everything. The OP has earned himself the right to pat himself on the back (in my humble opinion).

Although any small game would like to be acquired by Zynga, if you're really good and have great ideas, maybe you should not - because your company might become as big as Zynga in just a couple of years.

This deal looks like win-win, but maybe it's a bigger win for Zynga, as it removes one potentially dangerous competitor from the market.

Maybe they'll have money/lawyers to run the awesome tetris (blockles) OMGPOP had and pulled out because of the Tetris-troll company which thinks it owns some sort of copyright on game mechanics.

This is true of so many companies that get acquired. I always think of Infinity Ward. If they hadn't been snapped up by Activision, they might be bigger than them today.

If I'm genuinely honest, I'm not sure if I would have made the same decision. I actually thought for a minute or two that Connectrode was a city, and he didn't want to leave his family. That I get.

But I mean, its OK to love something and we all love our creations, but I wonder if I'd have viewed the thing that I loved, as a platform that was moving me onto the fastest growing, possibly largest game platform of our generation. The biggest player of the industry "I" belong to.

It would have been a sad moment perhaps, but I'd have sacrificed it in a ceremony if it meant that much, but tailed it into a drinks of celebration and the start of a new zynga-charged chapter. Just my 2c.

I think 'Connectrode' is somewhat symbolic here. It represents something he is and does outside of his standard workplace. it sounded like signing the Zynga contract could potentially threaten everything that 'Connectrode' represented to him.

This part has been alluded to, but I wanted to pull it out in its entirety because I think it's important. Whether or not people agree with it is also important.

"When an entity exists in an ecosystem, and acts within that ecosystem in a way that is short-sighted, behaving in a way that is actively destructive to the healthy functioning of that ecosystem and the other entities in it (including, in the long term, themselves) -- yes, I believe that that is evil. And I believe that Zynga does exactly that.

A "good" company is one which provides goods or services of real value in exchange for a fair price. A good game company recognizes that its developers are the ones who create that value, and treats them as valuable, especially if they are good at what they do. It follows practices that are sustainable. And it ensures that, at the end of the day, the world is a little better for having their goods and services.

An evil company is trying to get rich quick, and has no regard for the harm they're doing along the way. It's not making things of value, it's chasing a gold rush. An evil game company isn't really interested in making games, it's too busy playing a game -- a game with the stock market, usually. It views players as weak-minded cash cows; and it views its developers as expendable, replaceable tools to create the machines that milk those cows."

Ooooh - I love a good bridge burning!

(I hope this wonderful rant gets you the boost in app sales it deserves. 70% of my 0.99c is headed your way - and I _never_ play puzzle games…)

Can any lawyers comment on whether his concerns were legitimate? I can't imagine any standard employment contract claiming any sort of rights over all your previous work. Say it wasn't an indie game, rather some other company's game he was the sole developer of? Or if he had simply incorporated a company he was the sole owner of?

Certainly they could prohibit him from continuing to work on it while employed at Zynga, though.

Full disclosure. I'm a Zynga employee. I run the Boston studio, which was built out of a startup acquisition and is responsible for Adventure World. This comment is 100% my own opinion, not that of my employer. I'm an engineer and entrepreneur at heart, a long-time hacker news contributor, and now a GM / product guy. Above all else, I'm not evil. I claim that no one I work with is evil either.

It's a shame Shay didn't join Zynga so that he could see how we really operate and how we really think about our players instead of taking on what is essentially an uninformed and cliched conventional wisdom opinion about the company.

I don't know anything about contracts, so I have no opinions about that part. I just take issue w/ the last half of his article that slanders me and my team without any first-hand knowledge in order to market his new dev shop.

> how we really think about our players instead of taking on what is essentially an uninformed and cliched conventional wisdom opinion about the company.

Judging a company by what they do publicly rather than what they might say or think privately seems like a smart move on his part.

If you want your peers to think better of Zynga, the onus is on you, not them.

You mean like demanding employees return their stock options? Yeah, nothing totally despicable about the management of your company, they are all GREAT GUYS!

You != Zynga.

With less than 24 hours to decide -- a timeframe set by Zynga -- what exactly is he supposed to decide on beyond his impressions at the negotiations' start?

And he went out of his way to _not_ slander Zynga. He didn't claim to be poorly treated, makes no complaint about Zynga pursuing its own interests. He mentions his respect for a number of your colleagues. He calls the company "evil" but so carefully defines the term that it's clear he means "unsustainable" and "short term cash flow maximizing". You don't agree and that's what makes a market.

You want a chance to bridge the gap between your understanding and his? Get on the horn to Corporate, get a carve-out for Connectrode, then call him up and make him an offer, same terms as Monday but without the crazy deadline.

Well, I'm sure no one following this thread believes you or your team members are individually evil. It's the public actions of the company you work for that many object to.

To employ a bit of basic systems thinking, "the purpose of a system is what it does." When it comes to the actions of this system named Zynga, intentions don't matter. Only actions and effects.

In this context, the purpose of Zynga is to clone other developers' games. To create addictive positive feedback loops that exploit players lacking in self control. To ignore/break my iOS notification settings (OK, a mere personal gripe). ETC. Is that the whole story? Of course not. But a system that does these things was put in place by humans, and a lot of other humans think it's a nasty way of business.

Hahaha. The stock options were already mentioned, so, here's mine:

"Hey, let's make a carbon copy of this popular tower game."

"Sure! That sits pretty good with me morally."

"Slander" is a strong word, and most of the folks around here are not idiots- You are not helping your case slinging that accusation around. Tell us exactly what verbage you believe is "slander".

Pity he didn't release Connectrode for Android.

His app says "powered by flixel" which looks like some Action script library. Maybe a port is easier than most.

Good read. Here is my 2c:

Mr. Pierce: here is something you need to look into with a competent attorney - I don't see a reason, with your next game, why you should not use the term: "Programmed by 'Draw Something'(r) Developer". Ability to use this line alone (which is the truth), after all the media-steam Zynga/OMGPOP's deal is getting, should land you a dream job at almost any game-developing house around the world!

Good luck with your future endeavors. And let us know what you're working on.

'I don't see a reason, with your next game, why you should not use the term: "Programmed by 'Draw Something'(r) Developer"'

You mean beside him saying he never worked on that project, right? Seems like a step backward off of the moral high-ground he's taking to lie about something like that.

Well I'm pretty sure his lawyer would tell him that he cannot use that term, as per the article:

- I didn't work on Draw Something.

He said "I didn't work on Draw Something."

Respect. The love for your work, your passion and having your own app out there is more important than all the money you can get.

If i ever start a company i want this guy on board.

As a former Zynga employee, and someone who personally held patented IP and copyright ownership of code that still generates me personal revenue (as well as through my employment), Zynga was in no way threatening to it. His whole argument about "Connectrode VS Zynga" is really bias. He waited until the last minute to bring this up instead of being up front with Zynga about it from the beginning. I was, and there was no problem.

I'm not sure you understand the article. The difference between 'beginning' and 'last minute' was approximately 10 hours.

Apologies if I'm mistaking you for an astroturfing attempt, but do you mind sharing what these patents were?

Exactly. This guy is being dramatic. People love to hate Zynga; this guy could have written a number of boiler-plate complaints about Zynga and HN would jump on the chance to get to talk about how evil this is all over again.

The headline is a "little bit" misleading. I first thaught it is about Omgpop owner refusing to sell to Zynga for $210M.

I think Omgpop made mistake of selling itself to Zynga: Omgpop could become bigger than Zynga in years if not months. Of course, I don't know anything about what happened internally but Omgpop looked like Groupon of games industry from outside.

Key words: I lost a job, that's all.

He got paid for what he owned of OMGPOP, he didn't opt out of that. Title is deceiving. This is a post about someone who opted out of a job offer because of a personal project he felt more passionate about.

Liking the app, would be great if he kept up with the independent games.


I just purchased Connectrode, as well as his other game Great Land Grab Plus (mainly because I had a very similar idea for a game in the early iPhone SDK days, and wanted to check out his take on it).

I'm really surprised someone hasn't already registered BoycottZynga.com by now. As computing professionals, we should be ashamed to call these people colleagues.

Well balanced arguments with a very reasonable tone. Rare, and appreciated. Respect to this dev and I hope Connectrode 2 does change his life.

I really detest linkbait titles like this.

He turned down the job offer at zynga not the equity, or the buyout itself.

I believe good vs. evil is a poor way to look at anything. Using that formulation lowers your IQ by 10 points.


This guy should be a hero to all indy devs out there.

beautiful post - nice to see someone stand for something :)

Should be clear from his comments that he didn't give the $210M figure... a gamasutra editor made this!

You're right, Shay posts:

One clarification: I didn't choose the title of this article and I am not confirming or denying any sum of how much the Zynga/OMGPOP buyout was for - I honestly was not privy to what that amount was, and I don't know anything more than the public information on that point.

Big respect man. your actions reminds me of this quote; "A man who has nothing to die for, has nothing to live for."

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