Monthly Archives: March 2013

Zynga Awardville

Joining Zynga in 2009 was, well, interesting. I originally came from NetApp which operated at time scales that now seem geological if not cosmological. NetApp did things in the traditional way. Everything was so unbelievably different at Zynga.

One of most bizarre things, to my untrained eye, was our all hands. Basically we did quarterly reviews, and we had these awards that were not cash. I mean, seriously, who wants an award that isn’t cash?

And it wasn’t like we did awards in secret and hidden from view but Mark would call you on stage and personally hand you this statue.

It was, so, not NetApp.

And so in this paper

Colleen shares what she told me when I complained.

All the same, McCreary says she and Pincus think Zynga is on the right track with awards that involve highly public recognition, combined with personalized gifts that have meaningful economic value. Cash alone tends to have a more fleeting impact, McCreary says. If there’s no official discussion of who gets awards, employees don’t get as clear a signal about what conduct and performance wins rewards.  By contrast, Zynga’s winners not only get trophies and applause from their peers — they also are lauded on an internal webpage called … what else? … AwardsVille.

And when she made that pitch back in the day, I didn’t believe her.

Except after my trip to Hawaii, courtesy of an Atlas award.

I actually remember that award more than any other bit of recognition, financial or otherwise, at Zynga.

So there is method to our madness.

Here’s to Starbucks and Zynga and to many others


supportstarbucks Today is a good day to drink some Starbucks coffee, play a Zynga game, download YMCA from iTunes, post on Facebook, buy a kindle book on Amazon, buy some EMC storage, search on Google about gay rights, tweet your support, and and make a Xerox copy. And you should do all of that, today, in protest against those people who want to boycott any of those companies for having a shred of human decency.

In 1996 I remember the frustration that was felt when Clinton signed DOMA. And I still remember the embarrassment and rage  I felt when California became a scary state (voted in favor of protecting the quality of life of chickens and voting against gay marriage). I also remember my ambivalence in 2004 when Gavin Newsom took a heroic stand in favor of gay marriage. Ambivalent because I was happy that he was doing the right thing, and sad because I knew Karl Rove would use it to great effect against John Kerry.

So here we are in 2013, and perhaps, we have an opportunity to fix something that has been broken for too long.

Regardless of how this goes, I know who our friends are. And it brings me great personal joy to know that Zynga, my employer, joined an amicus brief in support of repeal of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act).

Did software kill all the lawyers?



Shakespeare’s Dick in Henry VI says: the first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers. I wonder what he would say about what’s going on in the legal profession.

One of my recent convictions is that computing systems will transform almost all occupations based on the ability to process, digest, and recall information.

If your job is to read a lot, understand what you read and then offer a summary, then your long-term employment prospects are uncertain.


One of my favorite TV shows is “Suits”.  Mike Ross, one of the two main characters has the magical gift of perfect memory. In other words, he is a perfect computer.


But in a few years,  wearable computing will emerge,  high bandwidth wireless networking will become available, practically infinite storage is already here and with ongoing improvements in search, we will all be like Mike. His unique gift will be, well, not so unique.

I originally thought medicine would be affected first. Medicine is very poorly managed. Most people are healthy. A trained practitioner can treat most people. The medical system should have a large number of cheaper employees filtering out healthy people who need experts to expensive doctors But instead we have very expensive professionals doing very menial work.

Of course, as I have learned in the last decade, the American Medical Association (AMA) is a powerful guild. The AMA and fear makes it very difficult to change the medical profession.

But I should have looked at the legal profession. What’s interesting to see is that lawyers, although essential, are not necessary. In other words, you are not required to use a lawyer to interact with the law. You are about 1000x better off if you can use one, but you are not required to.

In this article:

The plan is one of a dozen efforts across the country to address two acute — and seemingly contradictory — problems: heavily indebted law graduates with no clients and a vast number of Americans unable to afford a lawyer.

This paradox, fed by the growth of Internet-based legal research and services, is at the heart of a crisis looming over the legal profession after decades of relentless growth and accumulated wealth. It is evident in the sharp drop in law school applications and the increasing numbers of Americans showing up in court without a lawyer.

“It’s a perfect storm,” said Stacy Caplow, a professor at Brooklyn Law School who focuses on clinical education. “The longstanding concerns over access to justice for most Americans and a lack of skills among law graduates are now combined with the problems faced by all law schools. It’s creating conditions for change.”

we see a disruption in real-time. Cheaper, good enough, alternatives are creating pricing pressure on lawyers. Essentially people are choosing to go it alone using software.

What is accelerating this process is, in the short-term is, the great recession. People have legal issues and have less money so they look to low-cost alternatives. The long-term prognosis is also grim. The increasingly poorer middle class will continue to look for cheaper solutions over the long haul. This will continue to push down prices.

I wonder if we are seeing the same process I talked about in medicine happening in law. Many matters being handled cheaply by computers and software, and only the more complex matters requiring human lawyers.

In this world we may have fewer and fewer higher priced lawyers handling a smaller set of more complex cases. Which means that over the next 20 years, the legal profession will look very different from what it does today.

The new Yahoo home page


Interesting new redesign of the web page. Very clean, very elegant, Very Facebook – well until I get the new FB news feed.


I wonder what she is trying to accomplish The new page devalues Yahoo properties but put’s aggregated Yahoo information much more clearly in full focus.


Kudos for moving the Yahoo home page into this decade. The old style was old, and dated.