But what he didn’t say in that blog post is that Zynga has been scamming users from the beginning quite intentionally as part of their revenue model. Rather, he pointed much of the blame at middlemen offer companies: “We need to be more aggressive and have revised our service level agreements with these providers requiring them to filter and police offers prior to posting on their networks.”
Last spring, though, he gave a much clearer explanation to an audience at a Startup@Berkeley mixer, admitting that scamming users was part of Zynga’s business model from the start. And it was all caught on video. I think everyone sort of knew that this was exactly Zynga’s gameplan. But to hear it said so directly is just shocking.
The full 30ish minute video is here. We’ve taken the relevant section of the video, roughly starting at around the 10:40 mark, and embed it below. From the video:
I knew that i wanted to control my destiny, so I knew I needed revenues, right, fucking, now. Like I needed revenues now. So I funded the company myself but I did every horrible thing in the book to, just to get revenues right away. I mean we gave our users poker chips if they downloaded this zwinky toolbar which was like, I dont know, I downloaded it once and couldn’t get rid of it. *laughs* We did anything possible just to just get revenues so that we could grow and be a real business…So control your destiny. So that was a big lesson, controlling your business. So by the time we raised money we were profitable.