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Zynga boss: Stock scandal "hearsay and innuendo"

Zynga CEO Mark Pincus has denied allegations that the company has wrongfully demanded the return of stock options from entitled employees.

"The Wall Street Journal posted a story last night which paints our meritocracy in a false and skewed light. The story is based on hearsay and innuendo which is disappointing but is to be expected as we move towards becoming a public company," Pincus wrote to staff in an internal memo published by Fortune.

"We have nothing to hide in our past and present policies and I am proud of the ethical and fair way that we've built this company. As many of you have heard me say - we're building a house that we want to live in."

The Wall Street Journal's report claimed that Zynga had demanded the return of stock given to employees rather than appropriate salaries in the publisher's early days. Staff who showed reluctance were allegedly threatened with dismissal, and returned stock was to be offered to newly headhunted staff.

Fortune argues the disgruntled employees who provided the Wall Street Journal with information misunderstood Zynga's "meritocracy". The publication claims that generally, staff lose vested stock option upon termination, and Pincus is offering under-performing employees the chance to take a lower-compensated position rather than be fired.

"Being a meritocracy is one of our core values and it's on our walls. We believe that every employee deserves the same opportunity to lead," Pincus continued, suggesting length of service is not tied to comepnsation at Zynga as much as performance.

"Its not about where or when you enter Zynga it's how far you can grow. This is what our culture of leveling up is all about and its one of our coolest features. We want everyone to put Zynga first and contribute to the overall success of our company and all of you have."

The scandal comes in the build up to Zynga's initial public offering, which is expected to bring in at least $1 billion and make current stock holders very wealthy.

Thanks, Kotaku.

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