The New York Times profiles what’s happening behind the curtain at Zynga:
While from the outside Zynga may have the fun and whimsy of the Willy Wonka chocolate factory, the organization thrives on numbers, relentlessly aggregating performance data, from the upper ranks to the cafeteria staff.
General managers submit weekly reports, measuring factors like traffic and customer satisfaction. Every quarter, teams assess their priorities under an Intel-pioneered system called “objectives and key results.” And Mr. Pincus, a professed data obsessive, devours all the reports, using multiple spreadsheets, to carefully track the progress of Zynga’s games and its roughly 3,000 employees.
“It’s very similar to a New York investment bank,” said Lou Kerner, an analyst at the brokerage firm Liquidnet, who has followed Zynga for years. “It’s data-driven, and it’s intense.”
Zynga risks suffering from Packard’s Law, that “No company can consistently grow revenues faster than its ability to get enough of the right people to implement that growth and still become a great company.” They’re the poster child for the startup bubble that’s been building up for a few years.
I do agree Mike Arrington’s take that measuring employees and making them work hard isn’t outrageous. It’s what good companies do.
The problem is that Zynga has grown at an astoundingly fast rate. They’ve managed to attract and compensate some great talent with the appeal of being able to cash out, but once they’ve IPOed, they’ll have to evolve their culture, make it a place where the top talent wants to come work.
Will they be able to maintain their pace, or just fill the ranks with B- and C-level employees who keep chugging out similar games over and over?
It just doesn’t look like responsible growth from a company that will last for decades.