Foolish, or just what former employee Shay Pierce deserved?
You certainly can't blame OMGPOP CEO Dan Porter for being excited and borderline irrational. Publishing giant Zynga had just purchased his development company and its hit title Draw Something for a cool $180 million. In between popping champagne corks and getting into money fights, the odds of him to saying something colorful were extremely high. All he needed was a trigger in the form of former employee Shay Pierce, who posted an article on Gamasutra admitting he had no regrets turning Zynga's personal offer down, which led to Porter firing back on Twitter with:
"The one omgpop employee who turned down joining Zynga was the weakest one of the whole team. Selfish people make bad games. Good riddance."
"What's so interesting about success is the number of failures who try to ride on your back. Shay Pierce is just one of many..."
Now to his credit, Porter apologized on Twitter instead of claiming his account was hacked like so many professional athletes seem to do, but the damage was clearly done. Instead of appearing like a humble guy that managed to close a huge deal in a time that sees regular layoffs, he came off, well, like a stereotypical CEO.
"I think Twitter is a loaded gun and CEO's should resist aiming it at their heads," said Paul O'Connor, Brand Director at Appy Entertainment. "Dan Porter probably wishes he could take it back. He just sold his company for a pile of cash and he should be taking a victory lap instead of wrestling around on Twitter with people. All he did was extend a non-story by another 48 hours."
Mighty Rabbit Studios' Ben Moore somewhat agrees, though he also feels Pierce should have kept personal feelings within the team.
"I think what the CEO had to say was emotionally fueled by the bond that typically should exist amongst team members for a smaller development house," he said. "Pierce breaking out from the team and speaking on his own behalf without consideration for the image it may reflect for his company was certainly selfish, although I feel Porter didn't handle the situation as professionally as someone in his position should have. This should be a lesson to developers of how not to respond with issues that should be handled internally and not through social media or general press."
That said, not everyone feels Porter should haven taken the high road.
"Shay Pierce is entitled to his opinion, but so is Dan Porter," said Ed Del Castillo, Founder and President of Liquid Entertainment. "In the past, company leaders have held their tongues for the sake of professionalism, but with the rise of Twitter and the 'Text of Passion', that's changing. You can't expect someone who feels punched in the face to not step up and punch back."
PlayScreen's William Volk also feels Pierce fired the first instigative shot.
"Shay Pierce believed in his game and wanted to keep on working and promoting it. I can also see why Zynga, who just forked over $180M in cash for OMGPOP, may not want to have employees working on outside products. It's understandable that Shay decided to leave for that reason. But doing what he did in the Gamasutra piece just wasn't professional."
Finally, Halfbrick CEO Shainiel Deo chimed in.
"Everyone has a right to make their own choices with respect to their career and values," he said. "It can be disappointing when someone doesn't agree or follow your own and speaks out about it, so I can understand Dan's outburst, inexcusable as it is. Whenever someone leaves Halfbrick, we always part amicably and wish each other well in pursuing our divergent paths."
Taking all of this into account, we may never know how Zynga handled the situation, if at all. We'd like to think CEO Mark Pincus had a talk with Porter about outbursts having a negative effect on consumer opinion. I already know someone planning to boycott Draw Something, specifically because of Porter's comments.
Bottom line, Porter had a right to respond, just not in the way he did. With the $180 million sale complete, he should have kept it classy.
On a much lesser note, Dan proudly supports the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles, and as a devoted New York Giants fan, he and I will never see eye to eye.