Friday, April 27, 2012

Strangest executive compensation of the month

The tech company Zynga, which turns its customers into addicts to the extent that it calls its biggest customers "whales" -- the same term casinos use for gullible gamblers who like to front large while regularly losing tens of thousands of dollars -- regularly indulges in weird behavior that should embarrass any reputable company.

For example, when its IPO was upcoming, it asked some employees to return the stock options it had given them when they got hired so that it could redistribute those options to executives and investors; if you were just some ordinary developer or, God help you, a non-technical employee, you could go fuck off if you hoped to profit from the firm's IPO. And this week, with the stock already plunging below the IPO price, it was reported that company insiders are dumping that stock -- the stock they acquired using those options they'd snatched back from the company's workers -- as fast as they can.

Like I said, embarrassing. But this piece of news today was really weird:

Zynga CEO Mark Pincus received a compensation package valued at $1.7 million in 2011, most of it in the form of a home security system and related expenses.

San Francisco-based Zynga said in a regulatory filing Friday that it spent $1.2 million on the one-time purchase and installation of a security system for Pincus and his family. It was included in roughly $1.4 million of "other compensation" for Pincus.

Of course, Pincus and his cronies still got rich off the IPO, even if the stock has lost 25%, because they acquired those options for pennies on the dollar. So he'll have plenty of dough forever. But how strange that he chooses to take much of his annual compensation in the form of a home security system. I'm trying to picture the scene, say, five years ago, where Pincus says to his wife: "Someday, baby, when I make it big, I'm gonna get us the biggest home security system ever!"

It's tempting to suggest that Pincus needs the system because his company's business practices make him plenty of enemies. Maybe so. Like a drug dealer, the man makes his money by running his employees ragged and creating addicts out of his customers; so he surrounds himself with high walls, cameras, and alarms. Pathetic.

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