Zynga And Bigpoint Try To Use Apple Hype To Hide Huge Layoffs

Senior Contributor

The gaming industry is noted for treating its employees as annoyances best gotten rid of as soon as possible. Labor abuses are endemic in the industry, and there are firing stories that are awful in the sense that they both inspire awe at the sheer dickishness involved and fill you with disgust.

Like, say, the company that was fired en masse and stranded at an amusement park. Or the company that called down employees for ice cream to celebrate a product shipping and then fired on the spot.

We bring this up not to highlight the cruelties of the gaming industry, but to point out that in an industry noted for treating employees badly when dismissing them, Zynga has managed to top them by trying to hide a massive layoff by doing it right in the middle of Apple’s presentation.

Rumors started coming over Twitter that Zynga had fired more than 100 employees:

Possibly trying to hide the grim news by announcing it during Apple’s event, we’ve just independently confirmed that Zynga has shut down its Boston office and laid off 2/3s of the employees in its Austin office, including cuts to The Ville and Bingo teams. We’ve now confirmed the initial report from Justin Maxwell. We’ve also just heard Zynga may have an all-hands meeting this afternoon.

Employees were given two hours to clean out their desks, and presumably were ordered not to discuss the layoffs. Unfortunately for Zynga, they couldn’t quite hide, as angry people quickly swooped on them, forcing CEO Mark Pincus to release an internal memo admitting he was shutting down one division, firing two-thirds of another, and trying to shut down two international teams.

We’ll just take this moment to note that Pincus unloaded $200 million worth of stock a little while back, right before it tanked like Kreayshawn’s album, which makes statements like “we’ve had to make some tough decisions around products, teams and people” seem a wee bit hollow.

Oh, and they weren’t the only social gaming company to try this, either. Bigpoint, another social games company, also fired over 100 people during Apple’s presentation. Maybe they were hoping Zynga would cover them.

We’d like to take a moment to offer the affected at Zynga our sincere hopes that they’ll land on their feet. We wish you luck.

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