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What it was like to get a taste of the culture at Zynga

March 4, 2014, 11:06 pm | This story has an Influence Score of 751

By @mariocantin

Being that the field of technology is a meritocracy, it is no surprise then that as an industry, it is quite permeable.14.jpg

While attending a nearby conference I was walking by the impressive Zynga building at the corner of 8th and Townsend in the Soma district in downtown San Francisco, and I made a casual remark about the establishment to a stranger who turned out to be the manager of IT infrastructure at the social game giant.

After introducing myself as a startup founder from Toronto, I asked the gentleman, Gabriel, for a tour and he accepted at once.

That type of instant helpfulness is what I mean when I refer to permeability.

We agreed to meet 20 minutes later, which we did, and without any further ado, I was taken by my new acquaintance to the security area where I was provided with a visitor pass by a member of the security personnel.

Immediately greeting us was the “Zynga Play” area.

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Perhaps it's not surprising after all, although it is impressive, that a corporation would dedicate so much space for the entertainment of its staff.

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In Silicon Valley, it is currently the norm for the giant players to foster a sense of culture to a level which has never previously existed in the enterprise world.

Many perks are on offer and companies such as Google, Facebook and Zynga compete with them in order to acquire and retain the best engineers and employees who will execute the company's vision in a distraction-free, thought-conducive environment.

Being a software developer is especially taxing on one's mental resources, and the culture at Zynga goes a long way to alleviate that strain.

First of all, employees have free meals. Zynga boasts the largest commercial kitchen in all of San Francisco.

Employees are treated to the absolute very best coffee beans that can be found in the area.

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Socializing after-hour events occur once a week, never quite on the same day, although there seem to be no absolute rule to define this.

Zynga brews its own beer and its own soft drinks.

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In keeping with the Zynga core mission, there are plenty of games about –electronically powered or not -- to distract the mind when needed.

Alternatively, one can simply relax in any of the many hammocks which are hanging at various locations throughout the facility.

The rooftop offers a beautiful view of the surroundings, as well as ample parking for employees, which is a scarce commodity in this particular area of San Francisco.

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They are well over 1000 employees at Zynga.

I have witnessed two large rooms full of engineers, and I was left with the impression that there were several more such spaces. I wasn’t allowed to enter and take pictures so as to not distract any of the developers. I have found that level of reverence to go a long way in further defining the Zynga ethos.

The culture there has a pervading effect; you feel it the moment you enter the building.

It makes you want to work there, to be part of the community, of the excitement.

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Gabriel has told me there was someone on Facebook that said working at Zinga was “more of a lifestyle than a place to work”.

Having taken a tour of the building, I can certainly understand why.

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