FarmVillians, or the Art of Stealing

In a new article called "FarmVillians" in SF Weekly a former Zynga employee paints an unflattering picture of CEO Mark Pincus, putting one of his more famous quotes in context. The basic thrust of the article is that Pincus encouraged developers to copy Zynga’s competitors and dealt with the fallout later by settling matters out of court.

The article also points out why Zynga finds itself in a lawsuit with mobile game maker Digital Chocolate . Here’s an interesting bit from the article about Pincus speaking at UC Berkley:

Critical tech bloggers had a field day with a talk Pincus gave to aspiring entrepreneurs at a UC Berkeley event last March, during which he claimed he "did every horrible thing in the book just to get revenues right away" when Zynga was founded. Yet in May, he was the subject of an admiring profile in Details magazine, which portrayed him as a plainspoken capitalist beset with sour-grapes complaints.

But the quote that really stands out, as an ex-employee recalls, was Pincus talking about innovation:

"I don’t fucking want innovation," the ex-employee recalls Pincus saying. "You’re not smarter than your competitor. Just copy what they do and do it until you get their numbers."

One contractor says he was offered freelance work from Zynga, related to mimicking a competitor’s application, with explicit instructions: "Copy that game."

"I was around meetings where things like that were being discussed, and the ramifications of things like that were being discussed – the fact that they’d probably be sued by the people who designed the game," he says. "And the thought was, ‘Well, that’s fine, we’ll settle.’ Our case wasn’t really defensible." Psycho Monkey’s suit was ultimately settled for an undisclosed amount.

The former senior employee who was present for Pincus’ "No innovation" diatribe described Zynga’s business model this way: "Steal somebody else’s game, throw millions of dollars at it, and then, if it doesn’t have it already, add virtual coins."

Certainly that is an unvarnished look at how Zynga operates – if you believe that Pincus said those things..

Source: Libe Goad

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  1. 0
    Parallax Abstraction says:

    Very good article.  To me and the people I know, saying Zynga and Mark Pincus are scumbags is like saying the sun rises in the East but hopefully this article will inform more people on what an ethicless company that is.  I hope their star is fading not just beacuse of that but because what they call a "game" is really just a pointless progress bar that you pay to advance but which never gets to 100%.  It is not gaming, it’s work and I think a horrible trend to encourage.

    Parallax Abstraction
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

  2. 0
    mogbert says:

    The sad part is that this kind of thing is profitable. This is the opposite of a patent troll. This is the kind of pirate that IP laws should be targeting.

    But guess what, a lot of businesses operate this way. Copy the GUI, copy the function, I don’t want inovation, I want it close enough that consumers don’t know one from the other. We have no customers now, they have all the customers. Any that we steal will be more then we had before.


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