Zynga Threatened Employees With Firing To Reclaim Stock

Ryan Whitwam

A new report details some seriously shady practices at FarmVille maker Zynga last year. Apparently the firm was using large batches of stock to entice the hottest talent in silicon valley to join up. This is fairly common in tech start-ups. However, in the process for planning it’s impending IPO, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus became worried they had given out too much stock. His solution was simple: force employees to give it back.

Along with his executive team, Pincus began demanding that many employees return their non-vested stock to the company. This understandably upset workers, who had foregone higher pay in exchange for stock that could potentially make them super-wealthy when the company goes public. The threats were apparently not idle, either. Employees that did not comply would be terminated.

According to the report, only two Zynga workers stood up to Pincus. One left the company, and the other still works there. Both retained lawyers and worked out a settlement allowing them to return only a part of non-vested shares. There might be a business justification for this behavior, but we can’t help but find it contemptible.

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