OMGPop CEO Dan Porter: staffer who quit rather than join Zynga is a weak, selfish failure

This was posted to Twitter by Dan Porter, CEO of OMGPop, in response to an employee who did not wish to stay on after the company was bought by Mark "Just copy what they do" Pincus's Zynga.

These are two men who clearly deserve one another's company.

Update: There's more! An anonymous source within OMGPop placed a story at Business Insider claiming the employee, Shay Pierce, was "about to be let go anyway for being a poor worker."


  1. I went through a few rounds of doing art tests for Zynga. The place seems sleazy and weird.

  2. Everyone knows that Mark Pincus is a piece of camel dung who steals the lives of people and gives them nowhere near enough in return. Thanks for covering this.

    You’d think these savage pigs would have learned from EA wives, but I guess not. They’ll get theirs in the end, but not soon enough.

    1. Yep – what a pathetic piece of shit Dan Porter is. Funny how his idea of success is ripping off the idea of pictionary and putting it on a computer. OMG REVOLUTIONARY.

      Hope the fucking asshole enjoys losing money to rampant piracy.
      -Upon further consideration I’ve decided this shit isn’t even worth pirating.. go buy a sketchbook and a set of pencils and actually learn how to draw something.

      Oh and dont even start me on Zynga.. Those idiots wasted millions on a game that a student could have created.

      1. while i hate what i know about zynga and now Mr. Porter, if you don’t think “draw something” is innovative and indeed revolutionary, you haven’t been paying attention. 

  3. Zynga not paying full attention to the details decided he was talking about them and scuttled the deal…  and the circle would be complete.

  4. He did offer a half-ass apology this morning and a “real” apology for his previous tweets, but in my opinion, the damage is done.  He looks like a top shelf asshole.

    1. The apology was the worst ever: it wasn’t even a “sorry you felt that way” non-apology, but a “sorry I was harsh, now let me say it again at length” anti-apology.  Just one paragraph:

      “So was my language a little harsh in the tweet. Yes it was. But my point is that it wasn’t about Shay. It was about the 41 other people who made it happen.”

      “It” being the company’s success:

  5. Nothing says “I’m not CEO material” more than a personal vindictive petty tweet over someone that a CEO really shouldn’t be concerned or dealing with.

    1. Correction: “Nothing says ‘I’m Zynga material’ more than a personal vindictive petty tweet over someone that a CEO really shouldn’t be concerned or dealing with.”

      1. To be fair, the honesty of somebody who would note that “selfish people make bad games” as he joins Zynga is pretty refreshing…

      1. Porter is probably actually angling for a promotion here.

        Why should he care how he comes off, though? He got his, the classic “new money” attitude.

        1. I suppose if you’re sucking up to a sociopath, you should act like a sociopath.

  6. Ugh. As if there weren’t already a hundred other reasons not to play Zynga games and especially to not give them any money directly.

    I was really disappointed when I found out Zynga bought OMGPop. Draw Something was the first phone game I’ve played in a while for more than a couple minutes. Hopefully by the time the deal goes through I’ll already be bored with it, but the game had a lot of potential for longevity.

    edit: and I hope the guy in question gets a great job elsewhere for sticking to his principles

      1. can I alert you both to Carcassonne? It’s a bit “pricey” at $10, but I’ve been playing it solidly with my buddies for a few years now…get it!

    1.  FYI there are better online alternatives that let you play against more than one opponent.  I’ve played iSketch for what seems like a decade so have been a bit miffed throughout this whole ‘draw something’ craze.

  7. Hmm, and who is responsible for making sure a company hires and retains only the best quality workers? Oops, the buck stops here, right on your desk, Mr. Porter.

  8. In the 90’s I worked for a Silicon Valley company  that was acquired by an Oregon company who bought into the myth that everyone in California wanted to move to Oregon.

    Much hilarity ensued at the company meeting when everyone chose layoffs over relocation. With no one who understood the product to support it, the product remained on the market for less than two years.

    1. Where does this myth come from? I live in Oregon, and it rains 9 months of the damn year in the populous parts. I mean, I love where I live, but I love rain. Is it some sort of thing where native Oregonians think CA views them as more authentic or something? I just don’t get it.

      1. In the mid 80′ to mid 90’s, mostly due to rising real estate prices, many Californians moved to the Pacific Northwest. There was a fair bit of hostility directed at the newcomers, which probably helped fuel the myth.

        Portland is a lovely city but I’ve spent enough time there to know it’s not somewhere I’d really want to live.

        1. Cool. Thanks for the explanation and link. I’m an import to Oregon myself (though not from CA) so I had missed all that.

  9. There is something of a feeding frenzy going on down here in Los Angeles among the online gaming companies. I am trying really hard to get a programming job at one of them, but so far no luck. Quite a while back I failed to qualify at Zynga’s cattle call, but everything I’ve heard about them since takes away some of the sting.

    1. One of those times I wish disquis had a private message function. Oh well.

      I like Notch’s commentary. Also hope Notch has a long look at the employee and either hires, or is willing to give a recommendation to whoever they try getting a job from next.

    2. Amazing. There’s a whole business boom dedicated to “video games” that deliver as little content as possible while stealing lunch money from the maximum amount of children.

      My hobby is officially ruined.

      1. I never really thought about it like that, but you’re right, very little content in these games compared to the big home platform games and the MMPORPGs. As to the lunch money – well, I lived through the era of coin operated video game parlors where vast sums were spent on nearly zero content games, one quarter at a time. The dollar or two that pays for an iPhone game you can play as often as you like pales in comparison.

        1. Some arcade games were only designed to collect as much money as possible, those were the bad ones. The machines that could deliver a more intense experience via better content or concept certainly collected more quarters.

          The social dynamic is also vastly different. Time spent at an arcade with real people was driven by interaction between players, competitively or cooperatively. Time spent playing a social media game is driven almost exclusively by peer pressure. The players barely interact with each other at all, they’re merely pressing the lever on the skinner box again because all their friends are doing it.

          I dont mind paying a dollar or two for a phone game. What I do mind is being nickel-and-dimed for the false opportunity to compete with several million other people.

          I will pay 50 cents to compete with a like mind at an arcade machine. I will not pay $0.99 for a house decoration to make my “friends” jealous.

  10. “Being a poor worker” is of course code for “not giving all of his ideas to the company” and “using his vacation days to promote something other than the company’s IP”

  11. I think the most interesting thing about the Business Insider article is that (despite the text of the Gamasutra article being publicly available for crossreference),  it quite obviously misquotes or misrepresents what Pierce said on Gamasutra. That’s pretty shady, not to mention stupid.

      1. The planet of entitlement. Duh. He’s busy trying to learn all the new rules that money lets you live by, like being a dick to the help.

      2.  Subscription? Surely he can walk to the nearest newsstand and buy a damn copy of Time for $4.99 or whatever it goes for nowadays.

  12. Yeah, Zynga will just suckify the game or tie it in some fatal way to Facebook and it’ll go away. There’s something to be said for choosing not to work with buttmunchers even if everybody else in your workplace chooses it.

    1. I’m predicting microtransactions for extra guesses, or special cosmetic spiffs that don’t actually change the gameplay but make you look more fancy/etc. Asian free-to-play games often make bank on decorations like changing the background in your character portrait — not the character themselves, the background. (I’m thinking of PangYa specifically, in this case. Avatar equipment pieces actually have stat-affecting attributes, but the background is entirely cosmetic.)

  13. I’m glad for the merger. It reduces the number of companies who’s games I have to avoid.  Very tidy.

    Also a note for those looking for programming work in the gaming industry: 
    DO NOT do it if…
    – You want to be treated with respect, get reasonable pay, work reasonable hours and/or work with people who you love.  Research “Crunch time” and imagine what that does to a project and the work environment.  Want to complain? Guess what, there’s a line of people waiting for your job.
    –  You love games and want to continue to love games.  You, as an entry level programmer, will likely spend 20 months developing a shader that will be cut from the final game because of things you have no control over. And after all that you probably still have to go out and buy a finished copy of the game if you want to play it.
    – You want a career with legs. You want to be a game designer or lead programer at some point?  You want to have enough input into the process so that you don’t spend 20 months wasting time on a shader?  Not going to happen. Those jobs are filled from the top, not the bottom.

    Sure, other programing jobs are no where near as “sexy” but you will enjoy your life more and you’ll actually have spare time enough to spend on those projects.

    (Does not apply to every company or every game at every company, merely to 90% of them.  I’m a veteran of the industry and have seen exceptions. You can’t get a job at those companies because they don’t post Help Wanteds, they just call up the people they want and ask. No I won’t hire you.)

    1. a note for those looking for programming work in the gaming industry

      Or to be more precise, “…in the gaming industry in the US and Canada”. Working conditions in game development in Europe are actually quite humane.

    2.  I would also extend this to TV, Movies, Radio and Music.  Basically any job in the entertainment industry.
      That is, unless you’re filling a high-level position.

  14. Option 1: Ignore postings from disgruntled former employee. Issue is gone and forgotten within a couple of days.

    Option 2: Trash-talk former employee and try to smear them. Ensures continued coverage, adds credibility to their claims, causes you to be known forever as a slimeball.

    Please make your choice carefully …

    1. The ridiculous thing is that I wouldn’t even call Shay Pierce “disgruntled.”  He didn’t like Zynga’s business or employment practices, nor the specific contract he would have had to sign (which, to be fair, are all terrible) and decided not to work there.  He wrote a piece critical of Zynga, not his former boss, coworkers or company.  Why the CEO took it personally is beyond me.  That the CEO tried to smear a former worker for his feelings is completely baffling.  Certainly Dan Porter is now on my increasingly long list of people not to work for in the game industry.

      1. Add to that that he was offered a choice and one option was not to accept. Which he took.

      2. Because the CEO felt threatened.  I’m sure he pitched this as something wonderful to his employees, and then some one let the cat out of the bag.
        Anything that might threaten his future money is a threat and needs to be attacked!  Prime examples of this include the TSA/DHS response to criticism.  We smack them down fast and hard, then are baffled that people are paying attention to us being thin skinned asses.

  15. Shay’s article was written on March 27, 2012. In his article he describes what an “evil” company is. This is simply Dan’s response.

    1. Actually he makes a lengthy and reasoned argument about what’s wrong with their business model. They responded by shrieking and hurling shit.

  16. Their motto is actually “Be Evil”.

    Fuck those guys. All the money in the world won’t help them be happy decent humans.

  17. Zadaz: Ok, so programming in the gaming industry has less than spectacular working conditions – If someone’s dead-set to do it anyways, what mindsets, skills and strategies would you recommend to survive and thrive in it, or is it mainly a matter of luck and having the right contacts?  Does one only try to get hired by the good 10%, or, especially for people just starting out who need to build up their resume, is any job worth snapping up, especially in the current economy?  What do you think of the  Extra Credits episode entitled ‘Working Conditions’?

    1. Another game developer here. My advice, if you really want to do it:

      1) Understand the trade-offs between 3rd-party development and publisher-owned development. Third parties will make many different types of games, each with compressed schedules and limited bargaining power. You will also develop a broad range of skills. Given enough time, you will work on something you won’t like, but you have to do your best anyway. If you work for a publisher-owned developer, you will get better perks and longer schedules, but you will also typically have a very narrow experience. It can also take much longer to advance within a publisher-owned development house.

      2) Be at peace with the concept of crunch. Your best managers will do everything in their power to mitigate crunch, but crunch will come nevertheless. Beware the manager that believes crunch is good for the project.

      3) Like the people and the culture of the company. You will spend more time with them, on average, than you will with your family… especially during crunch time. Regardless of their skills, if you don’t like those people, you will have a bad time.

      4) Be at peace with the idea of moving several times over your career. If you want a decent promotion or pay raise, your odds are generally much improved if you look for work elsewhere. Promotion from within is nice, but the odds are higher that your boss will pay you less than s/he would a new hire for that same position. 

      5) In nearly all cases, your first job will pay you much less than what you’re worth. Just accept that for what it is. Get the experience, be a good co-worker, do your best at your job, and be ready to leverage those skills and relationships when the next opportunity presents itself.

      6) Always work on your web-based portfolio. You never know when you’ll need it. Bring biz cards with a QC code pointing to your site to the major industry events (E3, GDC, Siggraph, DICE Summit). 

      7) Understand that getting a job with the top 10% companies is as much about who you know as anything else. Nearly everyone in game development is incredibly talented and smart. Your personal relationships and your ability to hustle will make the difference between you and the other candidates.

      8) Insist on a life outside of work. Exercise, eat well, and get sleep. Even if that’s the extent of your life outside of work, that’s enough. You will be far healthier and happier in the long run if you do that.

      9) Have an exit plan. What would you do if you got burnt out? Where would you go? If your exit plan is really clear and strong — you _know_ what you would do if you couldn’t make games at a Developer X — do that instead. You _can_ make games as a hobbyist, after all. Unity, UDK, Torque, Game Maker, Game Salad, and so many other options make that a real possibility. No need to work for The Man when you can be The Man.

      These are the big lessons I’ve learned in 15 years of development. YMMV.

      1. I think it’s funny that nobody ever EVER mentions that “being a good programmer” in these contexts is a function of the ability to learn each company’s internal libraries. So many people seem to think (and portray) that games are written from scratch, but to my knowledge, the scratch work is far between.

        1. Also, the programming bubble burst, so that means there are  shit jobs for most of those who graduate today. And in India, programmers are a dime a dozen. Most of the silicone in Silicone Valley has manged to find its way under it’s inhabitants skin. Sad. 

          1.  Are you saying most of the people in silicon valley have silicone implants?

            what a horrible mental picture.

          2. Programmers in India do not know, nor do they even have access to, game company internal programming libraries.

    2.  “Don’t.” It’s literally the worst career decision you can make as an aspiring programmer. They don’t give two shits about elegant or clever design, it’s all about shoveling crap out the door as fast as possible. And once the project’s released you’re a spooge filled tissue to them.

      1. That is pretty true no matter what industry you work in.  Even the companies that “believe” in good design screw it up somehow and make your life hell.  For example, I worked at a firm that was all about agile principles and test driven development (which is state of the art thinking on software these days), but decided that there wouldn’t be isolated components and libraries, which meant when I wanted to check in code it took three hours of making all the tests work so I could get it done, which meant 12 hours days all the time doing idiot work.  Its pretty much always a big shit-show in any large project.  The industry just hasn’t figured out how to make big run efficiently.  The best projects are ones with 3 or 4 developers working in a close knit and communicative team.  Otherwise be prepared for nightmares.  That being said, the game industry pays the worst and has the longest hours so you can always make more and have some kind of a life elsewhere.

    3. The idea of making games seems to be what draws at least 50% of programmers into the profession, at least based on the people I’ve met and talked to over the years.  But most of us eventually move away from games as a profession, either after working in the industry or getting lured away from the idea by better offers elsewhere.

      BTW, having a lot of game industry experience on your resume isn’t necessarily a good thing at other software shops — standard programming practice in the game industry is often considered a series of jaw-dropping WTFs out in the “real world.” 

      1. BTW, having a lot of game industry experience on your resume isn’t necessarily a good thing at other software shops — standard programming practice in the game industry is often considered a series of jaw-dropping WTFs out in the “real world.”

        This is very true.

        I spent about five years in the industry — not game programming, but working on networking software for games — and the development practices gave my jaw quite a work-out.

        There are plenty of talented and brilliant programmers in the field, but very little talented (or even reasonable) development. Hell, a lot of shops didn’t even understand the concept of source-control.

        There is a reason that everyone gets kicked in the a$$ by crunch, and the shame of it is that it could be largely avoided if the shops understood software development half as well as they understood programming.

        1. Great point. Starbucks mostly hires non-experienced espresso pullers, they don’t want to retrain someone on how to do it different; unlearning someone can be very expensive. 

        2. Right on.

          Most of my jobs have been plagued by mid-to-upper level managers who didn’t understand development. I’m grateful that I’m not in that situation now, certainly.

          One of the things that makes most dev cycles so horrible is, I believe, the dearth of long-term development veterans in the industry. I seem to remember some IGDA source stating that the average length of a game developer’s career was around 7 years or so, primarily because of things like crunch.

  18. When I’m on Facebook, my favorite selection for brainless notifications is “Hide all by Zynga”.  Maybe we need a hide all by Zynga button for the rest of the internet.

  19. Sheesh, what exactly was this supposed to accomplish? Did Porter really think he’d get praised for the petty, childish act of publicly trash talking a former employee? 

    Was he drunk? High? Madly in love with Shay and feeling jilted?

    The scale is ridiculous. This isn’t a mean word said at the water cooler, or a loud insult at the local pub, it’s effin’ global! 

    The mind boggles.

  20. Talk about pot calling kettle black. Draw something is not only merely a port of popular browser games to handheld with added monetization, but is also very poorly designed. Sadly, there are few acceptable alternatives, leading to it’s success.

    I doubt he is in the position of bashing anyone, specially considering that the employee in question was rather neutral in his posts about the whole deal. He faced a choice, he made one. No bashing was done on his part.

  21. I came here thinking this was an April Fools story, especially with the linked tweet not existing on Twitter’s server. It wasn’t until I read his timeline that I realized the guy actually is a total douchebag. I’ve worked at a lot of startups in my day, and an almost equal amount of bosses who were incompetent or downright sleazeballs, but I don’t think any of them would’ve publicly insulted a previous employee. Then again, most of them didn’t have access to Twitter back then…

    “It’s grandstanding and I’m sure i was overly emotional because I wasn’t thinking about Shay. I was thinking about the people who don’t get in the press. When I think about what the team at omgpop gave, yes I get emotional,” Porter stated as he wiped his tears with 100 dollar bills.

    Dan Porter, CEO Gangsta

    This all starts to make sense when you find out Porter had quotes from The Wire put on the conference room doors:

    1. wow.  I would hate working there.  All that shit in the office looks cool for the junior journalist that graduated from NYU, but in reality, it’s really just juvenile after a while, and doesn’t aid productivity.  I would submit that when a company lays on the culture all thick with a putty knife like that, it’s actually imposing a “correct” way of thinking– which means thinking anything besides the way the Boss thinks is “incorrect”.

      This tweet scandal seems to bear that out.

      1. Pretentious hipster CEO is pretentious. Also shallow, mealy-mouthed, and oblivious to everyone else. Even if he started with good intentions, it didn’t take him long to become a petty dictator forever ensconced in his own subjective reality.

        I’ve been there. I mean, not THERE there, but… there.

    2. Thanks for simultaneously tarnishing my love of The Wire, Ghostface Killah & beverage-stocked fridges with that picture set.

      At the very least he could’ve chosen better quotes.. As you said, he just wants to come across as a badass coding gang$ta but some of the best (and most badass) lines in The Wire are from characters who aren’t gang-banging drug dealers.

      PS I should note that I would far prefer even these meeting room names over the sheer lack of naming creativity employed by two recent workplaces – all meeting rooms named after local beaches. One of them was so excited they even specifically mentioned it on the “welcome tour”.

  22. At one point I was receiving 3+ emails a day from OMGPOP, and so I wrote to them and asked them nicely to stop them. After getting no response, I wrote another.

    After the third email I sent — admittedly a bit angry in tone at this point — a “Community Manager” responded, saying they would look into it, saying they get tons of mail and to “relax” “dude”.

    He signed the email saying, “Oh yeah. And don’t be a jerk.” And that was the last time I played Balloono.

  23. Business Insiders’ article is like it was pulled from the Bizarro world.  Its the opposite of the posting to gamasutra.
    Unless gamasutra made contractions before BIs article

    Re-read! I am wrong.. it was CBS who wrote incorrectly.

    1.  They have other games. The fellow who quit instead of joining Zynga was working on a different project.

    2. if you worked in writing code; its not uncommon to get shifted off one project to work on another or fix something else.  Weird bugs come up and they aren’t always easy to track down.

      Turn over is possible but most likely production shift.  I haven’t played the game though.

  24. Well, it was nice having Draw Something on my phone. Not going to support a vindictive fuckhead like this

  25. Working out his twitter handle as an acronym: I get the dp part, those are his initials. But TFA … T for “total” then something that starts with F, likely an adjective of some kind, and something that starts with A, probably a noun. More fun than a Zynga game…

    1. The internet has spawned new meanings for the letters “dp”.

      I love when word games have multiple solutions!

  26. Deleting Draw Something from my phone tonight.  Not a big loss, I guess… it felt like it had a shelf life of about two weeks.

  27. You would think someone smart enough to be a CEO would also be smart enough to understand the definition of libel. Apparently not. If I were Shay Pierce I’d take a copy of that tweet to an attorney first thing Monday morning.

  28. I worked at Zynga for a short time. At first I was sad that OMGPOP was  bought by them, but after seeing OMGPOP’s CEO’s comments I agree. These people deserve each other.

  29. The dude’s email asking how much impact he had on Draw Something was … odd.  I mean, either you had an impact and you know you did.  Or you were barely involved and you know that too.   He clearly wasn’t taking credit – but for some reason wanted to be told he had a part in it.

    All of it funny when played out for all.

    – We were gonna fire you anyway.
     … Nobody ever told me I was in danger of being fired

    – You went to this conference even when the rest of the team was pulling all nighters, which shows us you don’t care
    … I asked for some time off and you all said sure.

    I believe both of them, actually, which just indicates that the company wasn’t doing a good job at managing this guy.

    But the email asking “hey, did I play a part in this?” was beyond strange.

    1. It sounds to me like he might have tossed out an idea or two, and was curious about whether they made it into the game, or whether someone else had the same ideas independently.He talks about ideas not really mattering much vs. implementation, so this is what I inferred. 
      I agree it was worded a little strangely, though.

    2.  Maybe you’ve not met many techie types, they often ask questions that make no sense to outside observers.  They often break into conversations that outside of other techtypes are like foriegn languages.
      They do not always have the best honed communication skills.
      It is possible he was on the team for that game, then got moved elsewhere and wanted to see how things he had started were finished.

      The problem is we are observing from the outside with no actual frame of reference, so we substitute what we assume the reference should be.

  30. After a corporate shuffle some years back, the first thing my new boss ever said to me was “I never would have hired you”.  That guy and Mr Porter should join forces, so that I have one less place to avoid in the tech world.

  31. Well, if any good came of this personally, it brought the original article to my attention (that I would otherwise have missed).  It isn’t any skin of Zynga’s nose (I already know exactly what kind of company they are); but I enjoyed the guy’s reasoning and think that having the self respect and pride to walk away from easy money is a strong character trait.

  32. This sort of derision/character assassination of outgoing employees is, sadly, pretty standard fare in companies. I’ve been through several rounds of downsizing/layoffs through the years, and the employees being cut loose are always inevitably derided as “dead wood” “dead weight” “poor performers” etc. etc. Similarly, employees who suddenly quit are eventually spun as poor performers and the like.

    It’s a face-saving mechanism on the part of management.

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