The Time Zynga's CEO Almost Cried to Save His Failing Business

The Atlantic
The Time Zynga's CEO Almost Cried to Save His Failing Business
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The Time Zynga's CEO Almost Cried to Save His Failing Business

With the company stock at less than $3 per share and having just announced recent lay-offs including the loss of its COO, you might verge on tears too while making a plea to the one man who could save your ailing gaming company. So, when put that way, maybe it's not so that embarrassing that "tears nearly welled up" in Zynga CEO Mark Pincus's eyes in a meeting with Apple director Bill Campbell, as The Wall Street Journal's Evelyn M. Rusli reports. Campbell, who has coached CEOs before had been called in by one of Zynga's investor to (hopefully) help him through this rough patch. During that meeting Pincus was, in Campbell's words, "discouraged" and "felt terrible about what was happening; he felt the turmoil." So much so that during this business meeting the CEO of the company almost cried.

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That's not embarrassing. It is just very sad. 

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But maybe this is karma. Zynga never had a warm and fuzzy culture, with the company's "Do Evil" motto, a play on Google's Do No Evil motto. "I would venture to say it is one of the most evil places I've run into, from a culture perspective and in its business approach. I've tried my best to make sure that friends don't let friends work at Zynga," a former senior employee told SF Weekly's Peter Jamison. Rusli described it as a "messy and ruthless war," in a DealBook post. "Employees log long hours, managers relentlessly track progress, and the weak links are demoted or let go," she wrote. These internal struggles are some of the reasons Pincus went to Campbell in the first place, says Rusli. Though we would never say Pincus deserves to cry. We imagine some hard working game-maker underlings cried over these tough working conditions or when they got let go for not performing—at least on the inside. You know what they say: A tear for a tear. 

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But hopefully (for Pincus's pride) that meeting with Campbell got the tears out of the way. Following his coaching, Zynga did some "internal reshuffling" and is trying to reposition the company better to make mobile games. The results of that, says Rusli, "remain to be seen." The game-maker has a long way to climb back up from the 75 percent value it has lost since going public. 

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