Bad blood: Zynga sues former employee for theft

Former Cityville General Manager Alan Patmore accused of stealing company secrets

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
October 15, 2012
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/2aee

Zynga is losing employees left and right as the company continues to sink. And now things are getting extremely ugly with one of those former employees.

In August, Cityville general manager Alan Patmore left the company after working there a little over a year to go work for rival gaming company Kixeye, to overseeing all aspects of product strategy and development. 

Now Zynga is accusing Patmore of not only beaching his contract, but of stealing company secrets.

In legal filing with the Superior Court of the State of California, Zynga alleges that Patmore “had widespread access to some of Zynga’s most sensitive trade secrets.” Patmore, Zynga says, “engaged in a series of intentional acts designed to steal Zynga data.”

On August 15th and 16th, the day before he left the company, the suit alleges that Patmore amassed 760 files he intended to steal into a folder labeled “Zynga,” which he put on his desktop. He then put the folder into a Dropbox folder in his personal cloud storage account, which allowed him to sync the files, and give him access to them once he left Zynga. He then, Zynga, says tried to cover up by deleting the Dropbox program from his computer, which he failed to do.

According to Zynga, the 760 files contained the following information:

  • Data concerning the method by which Zynga determines which games and game mechanics will be successful, and how to optimize them after they are released
  • An internal assessment of the success of every Cityville feature rolled out in the previous quarter
  • Future plans for Cityville, based on the success of the features
  • Monetization plans for Cityville, both past and future
  • A game design document for a yet to be released game, as well as 10,000 other design documents
  • Information concerning revenue, and employee compensation
  • Release dates for future games
  • Patmore’s entire e-mail box, which contained 14 months of confidental communications regarding product reviews, business strategies, acquisition targets, market analysis, key hires, sales projections and financial estimates

Now that he works ay Kixeye, the suit says, “The data Patmore took from Zynga could be used to improve a competitor’s internal understanding and know-how of core game mechanics and monetization techniques, its execution, and ultimately its marketing standing to compete more effectively with Zynga.”

Appearing before a judge this past Friday, Zynga was granted a restraining order, in which Patmore was barred from disclosing the data to anyone.

Zynga vs. Kixeye

As Zynga notes in the lawsuit, Kixeye has “publicly expressed animus towards industry-leading Zynga," and there seems to be bad blood between the two companies, despite their apparent size difference.

Indeed, Kixeye has punched above its weight, going straight at Zynga in a NSFW recruiting video you can see below:

A spokesperson from Kixeye released a statement to VatorNews, in which it denied having anything to do with the lawsuit, but in which Kixeye still managed to take a shot at Zynga.

"KIXEYE has nothing to do with the suit. Unfortunately, this appears to be Zynga's new employee retention strategy: Suing former employees to scare current employees into staying. They've clearly exhausted other options in their employee retention playbook,” a spokesperson from Kixeye said.

While Kixeye has been punching above its weight at Zynga, now Zynga is punching below at a company it makes sure to point out “ranks 34th in the industry.”

Zynga, as everyone knows, is not doing well at the moment and it was forced to announced a couple of weeks ago that it was lowering its outlook for the remainder of 2012.

Perhaps the company should not be reminding people of how far it has fallen since being the king of social gaming by trying to squash a company that it claims is so far below its class.

Zynga's stock is down .76% on Monday, and is currently trading at $2.42 a share.

Zynga could not be reached for comment.

See the entire lawsuit below:

Zynga vs. Patmore

(Image source: http://www.businessinsider.com)

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