Firstly, I don't see the employees being let go as victims, most are getting 3 months severance. Secondly, I don't think there is any real evil going on by Zynga; they accidentally hired more people than they can afford, it sucks as I'm one of them, but I fundamentally agree with the notion of at-will employment in the US.
I think when people say Zynga is evil, they largely point to three things:
* spaminess of the games
* propensity to copy other products rather than come up with original ideas
* tuning of games to maximize revenues from individual players
Do you think these are fair judgments about Zynga's methods? Is Zynga more guilty of these tendencies than other gaming companies?
But I'm not Zynga's target audience, and that's okay. And there's a lot of sympathy for your point about the "spaminess."
However, going from spammy/over-monetizing to evil has always seemed a tad dramatic to me.
The reason I think they are evil is the way they treat their employees, beginning with forcing developers to give back stock before their IPO. This latest stunt is just piling on.
An employer must give notice 60-days prior to a plant closing, layoff or relocation. In addition to the notifications required under federal WARN, notice must also be given to the Local Workforce Investment Board, and the chief elected official of each city and county government within which the termination, relocation or mass layoff occurs. (California Labor Code Section 1401)
No one gives notice because of the risk that employees will do something malicious and instead just pay out the 60 days(with benefits including vacation accrual). I've done 3 sets of layoffs at my old company as a manager and was eventually layed off. At non California locations and offices that were too small to fall under WARN, we terminated employees with no severance except one month that was attached to an agreement not to sue. BTW, nothing i said was legal advice just simply stating that 3 months is standard for California.
Also, you did the exact same thing he/she did when you said you didn't think the warn act requires severance so even if what he/she did was giving legal advice, your comment would fall under the exact same category.
I could see two people both hiring a janitor without realizing it, but not "accidentally" hiring a lot of developers, designers or whatever else.
Making predictions is difficult, especially about the future.
Saying you accidentally hired people makes it sound softer than it really is. If Raytheon or Boeing hired 2,000 people ahead of a defense contract they were sure they'd get, and didn't that wouldn't be an "accident." That would be poor planning (counting your eggs before they hatch kind of thing.)
Either way, I don't really care either way about Zynga. I don't think I've ever played their games, but at the same time I'm not hoping they fail.
Now, getting people and teams transferred once they are hired? That's a whole different story.
It's also very backwards (government-level!) thinking to be playing the hiring quota game like that. I'd much rather hire a few members in a kick-ass team than participate in a headcount battle.
That's not a mass redundancy, that's a mass replacement.
Shit was cute at first but now its just looking like a reason hack for its own sake. And the whole grandiose "Hacktivist" identity they've garnered is now looking more and more like its also bullshit.
This idea of Anonymous being (or seeing themselves as) a force for good is actually pretty new. I'm thinking it can probably be traced back to the financial blockade against Wikileaks and the response thereto. Coming just as it did after the resurrection of Anonymous during Op Payback, I think the response to Wikileaks' trials probably brought in a lot of new people with a much different set of ideals than those who came before.
I'd say the idea of Anonymous being a force for good goes all the way back to the Hal Turner raid. Before then it was all about spoiling other people's fun (Habbo Hotel etc.), but after targeting this white supremacist (basically by accident) suddenly people realised that maybe this power could be directed against those who really deserve it. Chanology and all the rest of it came out of that.
That rumour was started by 7chan, where the raid originated. They also blamed ebaumsworld, because they always blamed ebaumsworld.
It strikes me as naive to think that they would be capable of launching a false flag operation that so closely emulated Anon's previous raids, given how inept the CoS was in responding to Chanology, and how readily and willingly they fed the trolls. The choice of target, means of attack, and escalation of the raid were all classic Anon.
A curious thought: are false-flag operations even possible with Anonymous, which is a label anyone can take, not an organisation?
If Church of Scientology decides to hack Epilepsy foundation and call themselves Anonymous, then they are Anonymous. And hacking to troll and upset some group of people is certainly within the usual motivations of Anonymous activity.
Meh. Ultimately Anonymous does describe a particular cluster of people and behaviours, however loosely affiliated - and rightly or wrongly, they do have a reputation to discredit. When one incident is an outlier both in terms of action and (alleged) perpetrators, I think it's fair to call it a false-flag operation.
>hacking to troll and upset some group of people is certainly within the usual motivations of Anonymous activity.
Absolutely, but hacking to cause actual physical injury is far less so IME.
Pincus is a scum-bag of the first order and is ruining startup employee confidence in the value of their equity. He's poisoning the well for the rest of us.
Anonymous is silly in their own way, but you shouldn't be so quick to dismiss things or actions you don't understand.
Back in the "old days", even when you move the "old days" up to include Google's IPO, a company with such a massive liquidity event could be expected to result in a lot of wealth spread out among early employees. Even receptionists, chefs, etc could cash out big paydays.
With the way things are now, companies are often structured such that unless you're a founder with an ironclad paper trail of equity ownership, you probably aren't going to be walking away with much more money than what you'd get from a particularly good yearly bonus at a large company, and that's absolutely best-case. More likely is that a liquidity event will occur where nobody but preferred stock owners will see a single dime.
This perception is absolutely a problem for the overall startup ecosystem and plays into why everyone involved wants to be a founder and not just an early employee and this in turn plays into why all these startups all these founders are founding are having massive problems hiring non-founder employees.
As a potential startup employee, your biggest concern shouldn't be whether the company fails spectacularly. Failure sucks, but that's easy enough to get past psychologically. Your biggest concern should be what if the company is extremely successful and you get screwed anyway. Because while this is statistically less likely than spectacular failure, it is much harder to deal with and more common than a lot of people think.
Instead you should offer more speculation on top of what You don't understand?
I'm not really looking to debate the rights or wrongs of at will employment, but it's pretty common in Europe that sacking a worker requires going through a lot of legal hoops (broadly speaking, unless they've committed gross misconduct, you have to show that you've made efforts to help them improve, that you've provided guidance, and that you've given clear and explicit warnings). Laying them off in Zynga's circumstances involves statutory redundancy regulations (including minimum redundancy payouts according to length of service etc etc).
So I think that it is somewhat unfair to say that their position is fundamentally juvenile or under-informed - agree with it or not, laws based on the principle that you can't sack employees at will are very well entrenched and popular in a number of countries.
If the position is truly superfluous (1) and you can't use the employee in another position (2), sacking is entirely hassle-free.
(1) This implies that you cannot hire into this position for 1 year, without offering it to the previously sacked employee first.
(2) Considering reasonable retraining and acceptable skillset.
One analysis of Europe's inflexible labor market is here, by the IMF:
Europe's ridiculous labor regulations do more to strangle startups in the crib than almost anything else. Zynga may have done some unethical things, but firing employees they didn't need was not one of them.
Or alternatively, and this is just my opinion here, you could say that Europe's labor regulations help protect employees from unscrupulous employers seeking to take advantage.
I just don't buy the argument that EU labour laws "strangle startups". Firstly, the actual laws vary from country to country. Secondly, most labour restrictions are phased in over the course of employment. For example, in the UK employees can be dismissed without reason for up two years from the date of hiring. I doubt this is "strangling" start-ups, especially when you consider that in the start-up space many people work less than two years per company.
Perhaps you personally have had some bad experiences, but I don't go to meet-ups around Europe and hear people saying "if only we had a labor market that favoured employers more, then I could get my start-up off the ground!"
Let me put it another way: last month, the UK government put forward some proposals that would drastically reduce employee rights in exchange for companies offering employees small (£2-10k) amounts of equity when they joined. If what you say is true, you would expect companies to jump at the chance. However, the CBI (the main lobby group for British industry) was very luke-warm towards the proposals. They felt that labor laws in the UK were not "strangling" business in the UK, and were in fact an issue of secondary importance when compared to tax incentives and other financial matters.
I also don't see why making people ridiculously hard to fire is "favoring employees." Maybe it just disadvantages employees who are actually good at their jobs, but didn't manage to get in the door before the incompetent or unsuitable ones? I've been fired before. It's part of life, like breaking up with a significant other. Relationships that have gone bad shouldn't be forced to fester.
For an extreme example of "pro-employee" (but not really) regulations gone bad, check out Spain. More than half of young people under 25 cannot get a job, because of the gold-plated employment contracts their elders negotiated years ago. The unemployment rate for the country as a whole is at least 25% now. See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/01/europe-youth-unempl....
Spain has a two-tier labor market where temporary employees are treated very poorly, and usually fired before various "magic dates" kick in when they would automatically get benefits. In the meantime, full-time employees are virtually unsackable and coddled. The older generation, like vampires, are living off the young.
Entrepreneurs in France are also having problems: http://www.economist.com/node/21564609
However, I'm somewhat dubious about claims of it leading to unemployment due to old and useless employees who are entrenched in their jobs - if it were, wouldn't there be more scope for new companies to emerge who weren't weighed down by those older employees? If adding a new employee did add value, wouldn't it be worth doing anyway? If those employees sacked before the magic date were in high value roles, would companies be willing to throw away their experience? I suspect that the problems ultimately stem from deeper problems than this, especially in the case of Spain and Italy - there's probably a thesis that centres around them being historically poor, agricultural countries who've artificially benefited from the EU in a way that has masked big problems in the fundamentals of their economies.
Now US employment law might help startups grow quickly, but the flip side is uncertainty and insecurity for millions of employees in all walks of life. That's your trade off, and you have to get out of the startup bubble world if you really think it's worth it.
New Zealand and Australia also have relatively strong (compared the the US) labour protection laws, and unemployment remains low. Yes, companies need to be more careful when planning, but they are able to lay off staff when the business is suffering, without compromising the protection of employees to spurious dismissal.
And if an employer pulls a fast one and break the rules on they don't get fined by labor courts as they do in the USA.
Most employee rights come into effect immediately. After one month, you earn the right to one weeks notice, and pay if you are suspended from work for medical reasons, or if you're laid off.
After that, the only extra benefits you get are after 1 year, you can claim unfair dismissal. After 2 years, you can claim redundancy pay.
If you are from the UK, here's some help from the Citizens Advice Bureau.
"In most cases to be able to claim unfair dismissal you will have to have worked for your employer for one year if you started before 6 April 2012 or two years if you started on or after that date"
Note the bit at the end about the period changing to two years as of last April. This is a new change, if you're not actively involved in HR or hiring you may not be aware of it.
You're either being obnoxious or are not as informed as you think you are when characterizing all economists' opinions on "at-will" employment as monolithic enough, and the IMF's economists as representative enough of that monolithic opinion that making a statement that disagrees with them should disqualify you from having an opinion.
Please stop arguing from authority.
That's your opinion. A different opinion might be that Europe simply lacks a good "startup hub" like PG talks about.
The fact is, it depends on where you're talking about. In Switzerland and the UK you can certainly fire people if you want/need to. You just have to give them notice of a few weeks (or months in Switzerland). This isn't "ridiculous" and the employee is held to the same standard.
Unlike the US where the power difference between employer and employee is clearly seen with the expected two week notice of employees and 0-minute notice expected of employers.
Of course, this is rather a side-issue: many countries have a concept of 'temporary' vs 'permanent' employees, which introduces different dynamics and problems into the system.
It is an interesting topic. I suspect it won't be resolved in a comment thread on HN.
Nor will Anonymous hacking some company whose employees, in the grand scheme of things, are pretty well off.
Zynga should be more careful the next time they hire somebody wearing a Guy Fawkes mask in their profile picture.
However, I would say that if as a CEO you're laying off 5% of your workforce due to poor company performance you should really evaluate your own compensation package, because as a CEO you're meant to stop that kind of crap from happening. I doubt that's going to be happening for Marc Pincus.
This isn't really true. A CEO is there to make sure the company stays profitable. Sometimes, cutting a percentage of the workforce achieves this goal.
Another legitimate motive is to reduce the amount of time people waste on *ville. Even if they just DDOS, that means 2+ hours more productivity per person! That leaves bored programmers with nothing to do to waste their time, and we might just get some quality games out of it!
To claim that Zynga employees were taken advantage is like claiming that the bankers were taken advantage of during the 2008 collapse.
If you don't like your employer, find another one! These guys work in San Francisco, plenty of jobs to go around.
From a "Hacker Advocate" at Spotify
The internet needs policing
A pun for Mazinger?
I think the general precedent of increased employee empowerment (by increasing the consequences, currently at zero, of treating employees badly). I'd like to live in a world where employees have some power and a few hiccups or overactions on which I don't agree with all the details is something I have to accept. So that is to the good.
I don't think they deserve this for laying people off. Every company has to lay people off. The clawbacks, on the other hand, earned Zynga this.