As Zynga Boston Closes, Gaming Community Speaks Volumes

Social-gaming giant Zynga has laid off over 100 employees and has closed its Boston-area office, according to a report in TechCrunch and numerous tweets around town. The company is also laying off staff in Austin, TX, and possibly Chicago, according to an update.

Zynga Boston was formed in the summer of 2010 when San Francisco-based Zynga (NASDAQ: ZNGA) acquired Conduit Labs, a music-gaming startup in Cambridge, MA. Last year, Zynga also acquired the Boston-area team from Floodgate Entertainment, including founder Paul Neurath, who joined as Zynga Boston’s creative director.

Zynga’s stock price has been in serious decline, and it closed at $2.20 at the end of trading today.

Earlier this year, Conduit Labs founder Nabeel Hyatt left the company and became a venture capitalist at Spark Capital. At the time, he said Zynga Boston had 45 employees, led by former Conduit team member Fareed Mosavat. Mosavat tweeted this afternoon that “the outpouring of support for us has been incredible. Love this Boston scene.” Perhaps more pointedly, he also tweeted, “All we have as leaders is trust and loyalty. Squander that and you lose everything.”

I solicited some reactions from the local gaming community:

Steve Kane, the co-founder and CEO of LuckyLabs, writes: “Zynga clearly is reducing headcount based on geography, not talent. Zynga’s huge loss is everyone else in the local consumer digital media community’s huge gain, as all those super talented people are now going elsewhere. Hopefully to LuckyLabs—we’re hiring.”

Dave Bisceglia, the co-founder and CEO of The Tap Lab, writes: “Fareed has built an amazing team. If the rumors are true, I know that many of the local gaming companies, including The Tap Lab, will offer jobs and support to folks from the Zynga Boston team. There is strong camaraderie among the Boston gaming community.”

Shawn Broderick, former CEO of play140 and now with Murfie, writes: “I don’t have any specific insight into Zynga’s actions today. In general though, acquisitions are hard. Always have been. Zynga has a culture that probably makes it even tougher to make them work. I know a bunch of the Zynga Boston people, and if they’re losing their jobs, that definitely sucks. On the ‘good news’ front, it appears that a LOT of folks are eager to talk to anybody exiting—so hopefully everybody will fall on their feet.”

Hyatt didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but he tweeted: “Hiring? If you are growing, contact me, I have a few awesome folks that aren’t going to last long if I have anything to say about it.”

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