Zynga Rejected My Application So I Unleashed The FURY!

One thing I plan on doing in retirement is find a potential encore career.  As a computer and internet junky who has built up a reasonable size blog, a foray into the social media sector seems like a natural extension.  I want to make sure that I exhaust all options before I really kick back and harass my father on the golf course a couple times a week.

Applying to positions is so easy now thanks to the internet and LinkedIn.  It takes around five minutes per online application and you will get an e-mail confirmation immediately after pressing send.  For those who don’t know, Zynga is an online social game maker of Farmville, Words With Friends, and other names that rely predominantly on Facebook’s user platform to make money via ads and virtual goods.

Given I’ve been reminded about Zynga with Mark Pincus’ handsome face all smiling down below in my post, “How The Rich And Powerful Become More Rich And Powerful,” I figured why not shoot them an application despite their horrendous reputation for long work hours and ruthless management..  I didn’t talk to Mark at Marissa’s party, but I did swing by their sweet offices once in the SF Design District.

For most of June and July, Zynga’s stock hovered around $5 a share, a 65% decline from its recent March 2012 high of $14.20.  I figured in my ever optimistic self that it was better to get options at $5 than all the poor folks who joined earlier in the year at much higher levels.

And so, between scrubbing my chiseled pecs during bath time earlier this month, I submitted my application.  A couple weeks later I got this rejection letter:

 

TIME TO UNLEASH THE FIST OF FURY!

I started crying my eyes out when I got the e-mail.  How could they reject someone like me!  I’m a hard working, loyal soldier, who plays Words With Friends for free, and partied with the big boss, Mark Pincus!  Come on now!  Don’t they know who I am?

Like a Prom Queen scorned by a fickle King, I decided that if I can’t have Zynga, NOBODY CAN!  I went into the deepest cracks of my cobwebbed mind to conjure up the most potent of spells. After 20 seconds of practice, I chanted:

“Ommm, howwwww, could, youuu, wrooong, meee ZyngaaaaaaaH.  Youuuuu, muuuust, paaaaaaaay, for this dishonorrrrrr.  Saaay gooodbyeeee to youur leeetle foooze ball tabullll and shittttttay gamezzzzz!”

After the close on Wed, July 25, just days after the spell was cast, Zynga shit the bed and slashed 2012 forecasts by 70%.  The stock tumbled 40% to $3 a share.

Oops, wrong spell!  I meant to just give the recruiter a little morning diarrhea, not blow up the entire company!

Zynga Is Imploding

LESSONS LEARNED

* Don’t make me mad because I have spellz.

* Watch what insiders do.  They sold $500 million worth of stock at $12 in April, 2012.

* Winds change, trends change, tastes change.

* Not all startups will make you rich.  In fact, many start ups will make you poor by wasting your time and underpaying you.

* There are blessings in disguise all the time.  Be optimistic.

* Don’t be overly reliant on one source of traffic (FB).

* When in motion, objects tend to stay in motion.

* Not everything is as it seems.

* You can talk the talk, but bullshit walks.  Numbers are what matters for public companies.

* Don’t be naive.

* There will be casualties of war.

* Don’t take things personally.

* It’s only money.

* Companies are allowed to lie,  “As you know, we are growing rapidly!” Uh, I don’t think so!

Readers, would you work at Zynga?  Do you think there will now be a mass exodus of employees at Zynga, thereby increasing my chances of working there?  Do you think insiders new about the bad trend in April?  Will Zynga survive as a public company a year from now?

Oh, and don’t feel sorry for Zynga executives and major shareholders.  Here’s what they got when they sold in April:

  • Marc Pincus, Zynga’s CEO, sold 16.5 million shares for $200 million
  • Institutional Venture Partners, a Zynga investor, sold 5.8 million shares for $70 million
  • Union Square Ventures, a Zynga investor, sold 5.2 million shares for $62 million
  • Google, a Zynga investor, sold 4 million shares for $48 million
  • SilverLake Partners, a Zynga investor, sold 4 million shares for $48 million
  • Reid Hoffman, a Zynga investor, sold 688,000 shares for $8.2 million
  • David Wehner, Zynga’s CFO, sold 386,000 shares for $4.6 million
  • John Schappert, Zynga’s COO, sold 322,000 shares for $3.9 million
  • Reginald Davis, Zynga’s General Counsel, sold 315,000 shares for $3.8 million
Photo: Bruce Lee in Fist of Fury 2, PD.

Regards,

Sam

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. Chris says

    Bahahaha. Zynga and FB are like two swimmers treading water with a rope tied around each other’s waist.

    This post seems oddly out of character from what I’ve read in the past BTW. It was a great morning laugh for sure.

  2. Lance @ Money Life and More says

    With great power comes great responsibility Sam! You decided to use your powers to trounce Zynga? I could think of a few better ways to use your powers :)

    Unless Zynga comes up with some new amazing game I don’t see them lasting much longer and probably wouldn’t want to work there. Things on facebook seem to go in cycles of fads and it would be sad but possible that Zynga is one of them.

    Will there be a mass exodus? I would think there will be slow but steady trickle out the door.

    Will they survive? Probably but it will be a small piece of their former glory.

    • Financial Samurai says

      I only wanted the spell to make the recruiter poop her pants, not the entire company! My bad!

      If FB can buy Instagram for $1 billion, why not buy Zynga for $2-3 billion? But then again, Zynga’s quarterly profits are negative to only $20 mil, so who cares?!

  3. Call Me What You Want Even Cheap says

    I’ve heard of Zynga, but don’t know enough about it to decide if I would want to work there or not. If I was soley basing my decision on this article, then probably not.

    Don’t sweat the rejection letter, it just means there’s better opportunities around the corner for you.

  4. retirebyforty says

    I wouldn’t want to work at Zynga. It would have been fun to work 12 hours a day in a start up when I was younger, but that’s not for me anymore. I’d rather be self employed. What position were you applying for? I think Zynga will survive. They are doing pretty well. It’s just the valuation that is out of whack, right?

  5. Jacob @ iheartbudgets says

    Thanks for the morning lulz, Sam. Sounds like Zynga spared you some heartache by rejecting your application. Are you really applying for full-time jobs after you retired? Or is getting a job just an elaborate troll on the company that hires you? Because that would be awesome. Like a challenge; “How many job offers can I get in 90 days?” or something.

    • Financial Samurai says

      It’s all about options! The best is to apply for things and then have the option to say yes or no.

      It’s actually fun to apply for jobs that might be interesting, but might not necessarily be suitable. I just won’t know until I apply, or meet people. I want to thoroughly discover all avenues in retirement. One of which is seeing if this internet frenzy space is for me.

      Too bad everything seems like it’s popping right now!

  6. Liquid says

    Haha, their loss Sam. I wouldn’t invest in Zynga or anything at this point because I don’t like how their future success or failure is so dependent on one other company. However I would like to work for them as an employee if the opportunity arises out of occupational interest. I love making casual games :)

  7. Marissa @ Thirty Six Months says

    Working for a startup is not all its cracked up to be. Although I wouldn’t consider Zynga a startup anymore, but the 16 hour days isnt a lifestyle that everyone enjoys.

    Note to self* Sam knows spells. Must not make him angry.

  8. Thomas - Ways to Invest Money says

    Whats your take same on the stock for Znga and FB for long term though. I know you held some postions in FB and they are getting hammered. Im not sure the outlook for Zynga or Facebook. But I will do my best not to make you mad dont want one of those Samurai spells you cast on them.

    Must be nice to make a cool 70mm.

    • Thomas - Ways to Invest Money says

      Sorry forgot to answer your questions:

      1. Sure if I lived in Cali. They aren’t a start up and if they paid well I am sure I might get a chance to meet some influential people.

      2. Maybe – but would you really go work there now?

      3. They always know something. If they thought it would get better they would hold on to the stock to make more money.

      4. Hard to tell. Things change and this could be one of those get out now or buy a lot of shares a low price a watch it ride. I play words with friends like a mad man but I never click an ad for any of the games.

    • Financial Samurai says

      I’ve actually been all square on Zynga and FB for several weeks now. Sold FB at $28.5 after buying at $25.25, and kicked myself to see it go to $32.5. Bought Zynga at $4.85, and sold at $5.25, and really kicked myself when it ramped to $6!

      Can never lose if you lock in a gain, no matter how pathetic it is!

  9. krantcents says

    Zynga would not hire an old guy like me! Sam, you’re retired 2 weeks and already looking for a new opportunity? Too much time on your hands? If there is a call for a Sorcerer in the Bay area, you have the skills!

      • krantcents says

        I suggest networking with our new found rich and powerful friends. Start going to those fundraisers and collect cards and start dialing. If you are serious, this the way to do it.

  10. Mike says

    +100 for anyone who uses the phrase “shit the bed” to refer to a company’s declining revenue forecasts and corresponding stock plummet.

  11. shanendoah says

    I wouldn’t work at Zynga, for the same reasons I wouldn’t work at EA or BioWare (or many other tech companies). Based on friends who have (or currently do) work for all of these companies, I have come up with a very odd criteria for where I won’t work- if the company has a free cafeteria that serves 3 meals/day as well as snacks, and is open 16+ hours/day- I won’t work there. And that’s all I’ll say, because I think that’s going to be my next blog post.

    • Financial Samurai says

      Ah yes! PRoviding free food and games 16 hours a day is exactly how CEOs plan to silently crack the whip and not let any of employees leave!

      Zynga is no longer a startup. But, WOW, I’m learning about how much lower these startups pay for promise of options riches!

  12. JT says

    Can’t wait until those goodwill writedowns start hitting their headline earnings. That’ll be fun.

    Nice spell, btw. Let me know the next time you use it.

  13. Shilpan says

    I believe that surest way to grow your money is to invest in fortune companies with track record. It would be nice to invest in startups, but retail investors don’t have any insight about these companies. Often, retail investors are the suckers in the IPOs.

  14. Mike Hunt says

    Sam,

    It’s not their fault. It’s a tough economy and the market for virtual tractors is obviously getting soft.

    And you have to add insult to injury with all your hoo doo…. :-)

    -Mike

  15. Cat Alford @ BudgeBlonde.com says

    Haha – this was such a great post. You must have some Zynga voodoo dolls over there that you are poking and prodding amid all your chanting. I hope they see this post and realize what fury your true powers can unleash. Let me know if you need VooDoo advice. I’m going to New Orleans tomorrow to visit my grandma, and I’m sure I can find some crazy voodoo lady on the street in the French Quarter who is an expert in these matters.
    Best,
    Cat

  16. Funancials says

    First morning having a cup of coffee on the new deck with the new fiance – read this article – and come damn close to peeing my pants. Coffee through the nose and into the cereal. Thanks for that.

    1. I would probably work for Zynga. I think you get a lot more experience with a start up than with a major corporation where your role is more defined.
    2. I hate those automated online application turndowns.

  17. Kris says

    Hey, instead of feeling rejection, just assume they couldn’t afford such a high caliber person such as yourself. ( but you can still unleash the fury…)

  18. Financial Advice for Young Professionals says

    I’d love to get in on a start-up work my butt off and then get out and start another company. All these social media companies have some high expectations to live up to. I’d bet against them. See FB, my one and only market prediction, and it turned out to be correct! Way overvalued.

  19. Romeo says

    Maybe someone already asked this but, why are you looking to work for Zynga after you just officially retired. Did I miss a post or two? I thought the post was going to be about you submitting a rejected game application.

  20. laukid says

    I have a member of my family who works for Zynga, to clarify…. He works great hours, enjoys the perks and the people with whom he works. He realized this is a roller-coaster ride in a a changing market and with changing genres.

      • Invest It Wisely says

        What is the market like there? For devs here it’s now about 60k to 90k here, for higher you need to go management; then it will be more like 70k to 120k+ depending on the company. There’s been a lot of inflation over the past 5-6 years.

        • Invest It Wisely says

          Oh, to qualify those are “established” company ranges. If you go for a startup you can be looking as low as 40k – 45k, and doesn’t necessarily mean options. You might be able to drink beer at work and take long lunches, though.

  21. Untemplater says

    Sounds like a blessing you didn’t get an offer there. Any place that has a bad reputation for a work environment is a huge red flag imo. I think a lot of the valuations for companies like Zynga have been way too high and the market is finally seeing through that and correcting. Nice chant btw!

  22. Invest It Wisely says

    Nope, I would not work there. I heard about how they were “encouraging” some employers to quit or be fired, instead of receiving options, as well as other news about the bad corporate culture. The hell why would I want to work in a place that treats people like that? ;)

    It could be much worse though. There was some NZ game company that had their devs working up to 120 hours a week in some instances. I think they ended up going bankrupt.

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