When the Odwalla and the Red Bull dry up, when the weekly happy hour becomes crappy hour, when you have to peel your own eggs — these are the leading indicators that your company is in trouble. That’s one of the key takeaways — for me, at least — of a wide-ranging Reddit AMA with a user calling himself former_zyngite.
At TechCrunch, we are in the comfortable position of being a small- to medium-sized news organization and events business that lives in the comfy confines of a big-ass, multi-business conglomerate that a number of people still pay every month for dial-up Internet access. This affords us certain perks — like free lunches, snacks, drinks and the like — that our humble division probably wouldn’t pay for on its own. You know, if we had to.
But as part of AOL? Sure, why not! Put it on Uncle Timmy‘s tab.
It wasn’t always this way. When I first showed up, a little more than a year ago, the TechCrunch office was still populated by Ikea desks that, lore has it, new employees built themselves.
Then at some point things got all corporate. We got real desks, a bike rack. A fridge filled regularly with Odwalla, coconut water, Red Bull, etc. Tons of things to snack on, like gluten-free granola snacks, industrial-size barrels of mixed nuts, bags of Kettle chips, M&Ms and gummy bears, and — I shit you not — packages of Kale chips. TechCrunch had provided lunch a couple times a week even before the AOL acquisition, but now there’s, like, crazy snacks everywhere. Like a Whole Foods exploded.
I’m getting fat, so I guess we’re doing okay. For now. But I’ll be on the lookout for, literally, leaner times, for sure.
This answer, which is not from former_zyngite, but another Redditor, explains why:
“I’ve been part of 7 or so layoffs/buyouts over the years and the one constant indicator as to how the companies financials were doing was the snacks, and if you went from getting those kick ass gel glide pens, and the next week, it’s a simple stick bic. Yup, time to update the CV.”
For what it’s worth, former_zyngite confirmed that yep, “once the Redbull and Odwalla went away everything went downhill.” But that wasn’t the only sign that things were amiss at Zynga. Another ex_zyngite pointed to the moment when hard-boiled eggs were no longer pre-peeled, and employees had to *gasp* peel ‘em themselves.
And then there was the long-running decline in the quality of the happy hours. Those events never ended up being just a couple of guys sharing a handle of Popov vodka, but what used to be giant, weekly affairs with big themes and popular food trucks ended up being scaled back to once-monthly meetings with chicken skewers and spinach dip.
So anyway, I’m just waiting for the disappearance of the Clif Bars in our office. Or Vitamin Water being replaced with… just plain bottled water. Or maybe the keg won’t get refilled one week. And then I’ll know it’s time for me to update my CV and send my clips along to Valleywag.