I don't know how much water this will hold as those gentlemen had to announce before hand they were going to sell stock. The bigger lawsuit should be with the fact that Zynga issued positive guidance. The officers should be held accountable for explicitly deceiving to their shareholders.
Is there anyone on HN that's actually surprised at how Zynga turned out? I mean really shocked and surprised? Or even surprised at these accusations of insider trading? Pincus was known for doing shady even illegal things just to make money. Famous for saying "I did every horrible thing in the book, too, just to get revenues right away." and I don't mean to repeat myself over and over but let's not forget, most of Zyngas games were clones, flat out clones, of other people's IP. http://www.businessinsider.com/how-zynga-is-just-like-micros... , then there was the Tiny Tower theft. The whole company was built on screwing other people over for money. So the insider trading accusation fits quiet well with the company culture.
Even if they're cleared of insider trading, we'll all assume it was because they were good liars. It's hard to trust Pincus after everything's he's done and said. Insider trading sounds exactly like something he would do.
The sad part about all this is that Mark Pincus is intelligent and capable. If he wasn't such a bitch to green paper I think he could have built something truly amazing and earned his place in startup history alongside Zuckerberg. He had the intelligence but the soul of an animatronic robot. If being a heartless, emotionless, immoral, profit-extremist worked, there'd be no need for Human CEOs because robots programmed to be "dicks" would have taken over companies.
Moral of the story: Money is not the goal. It's the result of achieving a goal.
I see your Socrates and raise you a Benjamin Franklin: "Do well by doing good." In other words, make money through businesses that make people's lives better. That really is the point/goal/aspiration of Capitalism, but some people try to make money through the backdoor of cheating, amorality, etc.
Let's break it down: Zynga is a company created for the sole purpose of abusing simple people psychologically to make them part with their money. (This does not make the entire employee pool evil. They employ hundreds of actually good people. Most of them stay good. Some buy into the kool-aid and become toe-the-line shadow puppets of evil though.)
If manipulating people is your primary focus day in and day out for years, it can make you unbalanced. You begin to think you can get away with anything. After all, you've been doing horrible things for years and nobody has stopped you -- heck, most people don't even realize what's happening. It's a short leap to see how they start to elevate their abuse to the level of deceiving and manipulating public markets.
TBH, every time I think of Zynga employees I think of that discussion in Clerks where they discuss contractors that went to work on the Death Star. That discussion is directly applicable here. There are good people working at Zynga, but they cast their lot in with Zynga, choosing to accept the salary, stock and options offered. They knew the risk. They knew what kind of company they went to work for. The upside on the stock was great because the executives were effective mercenaries. They failed to take into account the downside due to the fact that those executives were effective mercenaries.
I once worked for a guy who turned out to be a scumbag willing to screw anyone out of a dollar. Once I realized that I left because although there was financial upside there, I also knew there was risk of being dicked over eventually by him as well.
If you don't own a controlling share of equity and the owners think short term, then you really can't be surprised when something happens with the cap table, valuations and offers that dicks you over as a minority shareholder.
I recall back in the day that many people were offered X number of stocks without ever understanding what percent that raw number of stocks/options represented. That was a massive sign that rank-and-file employees would be among those they are willing to dick over.
There's an entire casino gaming industry on this planet that operates on the same principles: part people and their money with any tactic you can think of. And I've worked in this industry.
I never saw a figurehead that I could classify as evil or unbalanced. Maybe because the market was legit, maybe because everyone - manufacturers, house and players - knew the score. There was also enough legal protection and patenting so that if an idea or concept was stolen, there would be a price to pay.