Zynga

  www.zynga.com
  www.zynga.com
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6 people found this helpful  

Not as good as it could and should be.

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

I worked at Zynga full-time (more than an year)

Pros

- The more workaholic, opportunistic, and political an animal you are - the higher your rate of survival and success will be.

- If you're a product guy, Zynga is the place for you. PM's are the high priests of Zynga and are the de facto designers of the games.

- Employee benefits are top notch, and if you like free t-shirts you'll be in seventh heaven. The company spends absurd amounts of money on events and trinkets.

Cons

- Projects are pressure cookers and projects involving multiple studios are a nightmare. As stress levels rise, reputations and positions are constantly put at risk. Be expert at CYA or be gone.

- The meritocracy system has been corrupted and co-opted resulting in toxic competition and opportunism. How well you do depends on how well you can spin it.

- Top performers are indeed lauded, however, since the "merit-based" promotions & bonuses are determined in a black box such accolades seem arbitrary, because they are. Visibility matters most and competency is valued less than reaction time.

- There is a systemic failure to recognize value for anyone not deemed a rockstar. A general lack of respect for everyone else's contributions is common, and at worst, competent and diligent employees are labeled as under-performers and pushed out.

- PMs have the most influence on the schedule and most have no prior experience in software or game development. Engineers end up hacking together features based on which direction the PM's feel the monetization and retention winds are blowing on any given day. Producers have no power to control scope or schedule and are expected to get teams to hit fixed dates with constantly changing requirements.

- Speaking truth to power is the fastest way to be branded an under-performer.

- The penalties for poor leadership and the constant pivots are too easily passed to subordinates. Staying afloat by standing on the bodies of those they have drowned is not an uncommon practice.

- Execs favor or ignore studios using a hero/loser dichotomy. If e-staff starts ignoring your studio don't expect to receive good projects or support.

- There are many people with talent for innovation and creativity in the company but the organization is broken by design and doesn't support them.

- Chaotic and unsustainable work/life balance. One of the company's core values is to "Put Zynga first", which translates to this: Your personal life is forfeit. You're going to work evenings and weekends with no advance warning and if you're in an external studio, keep a suitcase packed as you'll be relocated to SF or other studios for weeks and sometimes months at a time.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

- When you hire or acquire people because they are awesome at what they do, get out of their way and let them do it! It's a shame when creatively inspired people with proven track records are limited to be little more than assembly line workers for the next cloneville.

- Hold yourselves openly and directly accountable for the failures that occur, especially when projects and teams enter a death spiral due to creative, political, and studio dysfunction.

- Admit that persistent crunch is not an issue that teams can solve on their own, it's a business issue. Crunch has to be solved at the top, it's not a solution we grunts can push up.

- Stop rewarding the best of the worst. It's painfully obvious at the local level when someone is called out as a "rockstar" due to self-promotion and high visibility rather than their actual contributions to the team or project. Incentivizing short term individual goals has been a very successful way to focus people on elevating their own efforts at the expense of their team and the product.

Doesn't Recommend
Negative Outlook
Disapproves of CEO

368 Other Employee Reviews for Zynga (View Most Recent)

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  1. 4 people found this helpful  

    Not for everyone

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Zynga

    Pros

    Very exciting place to work, though you will get pushed incredibly hard to deliver at all times.

    Cons

    Lots of politics and thrashing as executives change direction on a weekly, if not daily basis.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop working on a quarter-to-quarter basis.

    Disapproves of CEO
  2. 20 people found this helpful  

    Know what you're getting into.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Zynga

    Pros

    - Great benefits. Health, Dental, gym at work, fitness classes, etc.

    - Great perks. Free food, snacks, Blue Bottle coffee, Friday "Happy Hours," quarterly parties, free work android/iPhone

    - Awesome equipment to work with. Pretty much state-of-the-art anything you need.

    - "Anything goes" style work place. If you push hard enough for something you want, there's a decent chance you'll be able to achieve it. And they'll most likely reward you for it.

    - Perfect place for someone who is young, has few friends, no serious relationship, or children.

    - If you're a Product Manager, you'll love it here. This is a company built around product management. The more or less run the show, particularly on games that are already released.

    - If you're clever, you can hide beneath the radar, don't try too hard, and go home at a reasonable hour. You won't get any bonuses or "level-ups," but you may keep whatever life you have.

    Cons

    - Extremely chaotic. Very difficult at times to get into a "groove" and just do great work in a comfortable environment. Even though this place is often looked at as a "start up," 4 years into their lifespan, it's time to grow up and nail down some serious production pipelines.

    - Due to its extreme chaos, working 12 hour days is going to happen. A LOT. And for what will, at times, feel like no reason.

    - Seriously poor upper and middle management. One's mileage may vary, but for the most part if you have to work super late, something went wrong with scheduling. And most scheduling hiccups will occur if someone in the executive staff decides to suddenly "pivot" on something they've already committed to, and you have to scramble. The company uses it's perks (food, particularly) to smooth over sloppy scheduling, but that gets old after a while. Management has no interest in your personal well-being, and figures parties, free booze and food should make it all better.

    - Creative process is sorely lacking. Lots of talk about doing fresh and new ideas, but ultimately the proof is in the pudding: this company makes clones of themselves, and of other games. This makes the lack of pipeline even more frustrating, since the company basically makes the same games over and over again (when they're not buying other company's games, that is). One would think that efficiency would allow the company to create more content more quickly, but sadly there's no real interest in that. They just throw more people at the job.

    - There's something inherently sad and toxic about the work environment, that's hard to put your finger on. You can feel it when you walk into the office. People are powering through it, but ultimately the work will feel a bit "soulless."

    - If you're an artist who hopes to become a better one in the future, be prepared to deal with a whole lot of people with a whole lot of opinions and feedback (nitpicks) that are based in basically nothing. I don't know of anyone in the upper management that comes from a seriously art-based or creative background, so it feels strange to hear some fo their comments at times. If you aren't diligent outside of the workplace, your art will suffer. I've seen it happen, and it's sad.

    -If you're an engineer with any kind of above-average competence, be prepared to deal with what could be the worst thing about the company. The engineers have it worse than anyone else, and will pull the longest hours on average. Some of the tech is, from what I hear, sloppy, and a lot of times you'll be running around cleaning up someone else's mess. This is often caused by moving too quickly and not taking the time to make thoughtful tools that will benefit the team in the future. Depending on the kind of manager you get, you may be able to create a decent schedule and actually make something that is not only useful, but stable and well made, but that's tough to come by.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Above anything, I think it's important to become more efficient. There are a lot of creative and hard-working people there that only want to do their best, and it's important to build an environment that supports this. Partying and gorging yourself on food is fun in the beginning, but ultimately folks need to live their lives, get inspired, and bring that inspiration back to the workplace. Look at companies like Pixar to get an idea of what works, and why people are so happy to work in places like that. In the end, the company (and the customers you serve) will only benefit.

    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO
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