A few months ago, OMGPOP was about to go bust.Its Facebook games weren’t performing and prospects were so bleak, CEO Dan Porter was forced to lay off several of the startup’s flash developers.
Then OMGPOP launched a mobile game called Draw Something, and everything changed.
Days after its launch, Draw Something was an obvious hit. Within weeks, it became the most popular iPhone/Facebook game out there. 35 million people downloaded it in six weeks.
Social games biggie Zynga came calling with a ton of cash, and bought OMGPOP for $210 million.
So what happened to those people Porter laid off?
The answer to that question is a pretty dramatic story with a happy ending.
We first heard it from an industry source in New York. Then we checked around. Here’s a lightly edited telling of the tale from someone else – an unimpeachable, first-hand source with knowledge of the situation (This source asked us not to use his or her name out of respect to Zynga’s quiet period.):
OMGPOP was not getting traction on Facebook, but it still had a bunch of flash developers.
Porter could have moved them around to mobile or other projects but money was running tight. To extend the company’s runway, he had to let them go.
This move bought OMGPOP another month or two of runway. It was purely a financial decision and a really tough one. The company tried to find jobs for the people who were fired.
Once Draw Something took off and it looked like we might do a deal, CEO Dan Porter hired the fired workers back ASAP.
He was literally negotiating the deal and jamming the re-hires back into payroll to make sure they were covered with hours remaining in the close. Their options kept vesting and they benefitted from the sale.
Porter didn’t have to do it. It was just the mensch thing to do.
There was one guy who used to work for OMGPOP who was facing a deadline on whether or not to exercises his options. He couldn’t decide, and Porter didn’t want him to lose out, so he hired him as a contractor to extend his vesting as well. He made money too.
Every single employee got something from the deal, even new employees who hadn’t reached their cliff. Porter made sure it happened.