In October 2010, social gaming developer Zynga was riding a massive wave of success. The start-up was valued at roughly $5.5 billion - higher than console publisher Electronic Arts at the time. Plans of taking the company public were well under way and the future looked bright and sunny.
Yet here we sit almost two years later to the day, reveling at how sharply Zynga’s fortune has taken a turn for the worse. Share value has tanked in recent months despite the company’s attempts to snatch up smaller firms like OMGPOP of Draw Something fame. It seems the worst is still yet to come.
Zynga reportedly laid off more than 100 employees earlier today at their Austin office. The entire development team behind “The Ville” was let go, likely due to the fact that EA filed a lawsuit against Zynga in June 2012 claiming their product was a direct copy of The Sims Social.
Employees at the Austin office were given just two hours to gather their belongings and vacate the premises. Rumors are also swirling that the Boston office might experience similar layoffs.
Zynga allegedly chose to clean house around 10 am Pacific time, just as everyone in the industry had their eyes fixed upon Apple’s media event. It’s a classic media strategy to announce bad news while everyone else is tuned in to someone else’s breaking news. As such, Zynga likely won’t get as much negative press as they might have received on an “off” news day.
Zynga’s stock value is down just over five percent as of writing. We’re still waiting to hear an official announcement from the developer on the subject.