Zynga Threatens to Fire Employees Who Refuse to Give Back Stock
At many startup companies, employees understand that they won't be recieving the big salaries they could be getting at already established enterprises. Part of the incentive to work at these new ventures is not just the thrill of the crazy startup experience, but also the stock options, with many companies giving out a portion of their ownership to employees. Look at Google, a company which started off as two dudes and a search engine. I think even their janitor was eventually able to cash in his stock for a couple million bucks.
So this practice of giving away stock is really not newsworthy. That is, until the company tries to take it back.
It seems that social gaming Juggernaut Zynga is feeling a bit stupid for having given stock away to their employees as if the certificates were fun party favors, as the billion-dollar company is now looking to go public, and make pretty much everyone who ever worked their filthy rich. But rather than accept that their employees won the old startup lottery, Zynga is asking that some employees give that stock back, or be fired.
The legality of this is rather shaky. After all, employees legally own that stock, so Zynga is kind of saying "Give me that thing I want that I have no actual claim to, or get the hell out of my diamond-plated office." Not to mention, it's really quite a dick move. Then again, if you gave your buddy a $5 scratch ticket instead of the the ten bucks you owed him, and he won a cool million dollars on the thing, there's no way you wouldn't tell him: "c'mon bro, you've gotta give at least give me half of that."
In short, Zynga is trying to enforce some sort of bro contract. We'll see how it stands up in court.