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The Zynga Boston diaspora: An update from former studio head Fareed Mosavat

Posted by Scott Kirsner  December 7, 2012 11:16 AM

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Everyone was surprised when social games giant Zynga suddenly shuttered its Harvard Square game development studio in late October.

Even more surprising: Zynga provided absolutely no outplacement support to help the 48 employees there find new jobs, according to Fareed Mosavat, who'd been the general manager there. (I've e-mailed and called Zynga to confirm that, but haven't yet heard back.)

Despite that, Mosavat tells me that more than 60 percent of Zynga Boston's team has found new jobs so far, at local startups like Abine, Rue La La, LevelUp/SCVNGR, Fiksu, TapJoy, Harmonix, Lucky Labs, Jana, and Boundless Learning. Mosavat himself wound up as VP of product at RunKeeper, the Boston-based fitness data startup.

And five former members of Zynga Boston's leadership team are working on a new tablet and mobile games startup, Proletariat Inc., led by Seth Sivak. (Sivak was the lead designer for the one Zynga game that the Boston studio released, Adventure World.) Proletariat is currently based at the Intrepid Labs shared office space in East Cambridge.

"All of the product managers from Zynga Boston have been hired, and all but two of the engineers have, and that's by their own design," Mosavat says. "It has been a little tougher for the artists and game designers."

Despite the lack of outplacement help from Zynga HQ — "we were on our own," Mosavat says — Mosavat and former Zynga Boston chief Nabeel Hyatt received lots of offers of help via Twitter, LinkedIn, and e-mail. (Hyatt is now a partner at Spark Capital, the Newbury Street VC firm.) "Nabeel was super-helpful and super-involved in connecting people to Spark portfolio companies like Jana and RunKeeper," Mosavat says.

Two Zynga Boston folks wound up relocating to San Francisco, for jobs at Zynga's main office.

One more interesting factoid about the Zynga Boston diaspora: Zynga had hired two employees who'd lost their jobs when 38 Studios, the Curt Schilling gaming startup in Providence, closed its doors in May. But after going through two shut-downs in one year, Mosavat tells me both of them have new jobs, at Lucky Labs and Fire Hose Games.

(The pic above is from Zynga's Central Square office, before the team moved to Harvard Square.)

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About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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