According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Facebook's most popular applications have been sharing user information with advertisers. How is this happening? Why is this happening? To answer those questions go here. If you're a web developer, that link should give you a helpful explanation. If you're anyone else, like me, then don't bother because it might as well be written in Cantonese. So why even talk about this at all? Because it gives me a chance to highlight some fantastic work done by our sister paper in San Francisco.
Zynga is the toast of Silicon Valley, a three year-old company that's gone from start-up to possibly being worth $4 billion based entirely on the strength of its social-media games like FarmVille, where users plant and harvest crops. For fun. On the internet.
Anyway, because Zynga's FarmVille and Mafia Wars are some of the biggest privacy breachers, I thought it'd be appropriate to highlight SF Weekly's cover story, "FarmVillians." The Weekly spoke to some of Zynga's former employees in order to discovere the secret behind the company's meteoric rise. And what it found?
In light of Zynga's phenomenal rise, one former senior employee recalls arriving at the company eager to discover what new business practices were driving its success in a market where other popular Web 2.0 ventures struggled to make money. What was Zynga's secret? Not long after starting work, he got an answer. It came directly from Zynga founder and CEO Mark Pincus at a meeting. And it wasn't what he expected.
"I don't fucking want innovation," the ex-employee recalls Pincus saying. "You're not smarter than your competitor. Just copy what they do and do it until you get their numbers."