Zynga CEO Mark Pincus Demands Stock Back From Employees

Posted Nov 10, 2011

Zynga CEO Mark Pincus is preparing his company to have an initial public offering. However he is now scrambling to get back some of the stock options that he distributed from some of his early employees. According to several Wall Street Journal sources, Mark Pincus decided last year that they needed to get back some of their stock options. Pincus approached some employees and told them to either return the options or get fired.

Supposedly some of the Zynga executives were worried about the “Google Chef” situation. This metaphor is in reference to some how a chef at Google actually gained $20 million worth of stock after the company went public. The returned Zynga stock would be used to attract new talent.

However Fortune believes that asking for stock back from under-performing employees is normal and it is better than firing them. Fortune believes these employees were demoted because they should not have deserved the stock in the first place.

Below is a message that Pincus sent to employees:

The wall street journal posted a story last night (copied below) which paints our meritocracy in a false and skewed light. The story is based on hearsay and innuendo which is disappointing but is to be expected as we move towards becoming a public company.
We have nothing to hide in our past and present policies and I am proud of the ethical and fair way that we’ve built this company. As many of you have heard me say — we’re building a house that we want to live in.
Being a meritocracy is one of our core values and it’s on our walls. We believe that every employee deserves the same opportunity to lead. Its not about where or when you enter zynga its how far you can grow. This is what our culture of leveling up is all about and its one of our coolest features.
we want everyone to put zynga first and contribute to the overall success of our company and all of you have.