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Two years after setting up a Boston game development studio, Zynga closes it

Posted by Scott Kirsner  October 23, 2012 05:39 PM

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A little more than two years ago, game developer Zynga acquired a Cambridge startup called Conduit Labs. That, along with the subsequent acquisition of Floodgate Entertainment, established a small studio in Boston that worked on projects like Indiana Jones Adventure World, FarmVille 2, and an as-yet-unreleased third game. The studio, headquartered in Harvard Square, had grown to 50 employees before its parent company abruptly announced this morning that it would be closed it as part of a cost-cutting effort. Zynga's Cambridge team had been headed by Fareed Behmaram-Mosavat, who'd joined the company as part of the Conduit acquisition.

Nabeel Hyatt, who'd run the local studio until last February, when he left to join the VC firm Spark Capital, told me that he'd heard about the closure from Behmaram-Mosavat and other employees, who all said they'd been completely surprised by the announcement. Hyatt said the studio was within a few weeks of wrapping up work on a new game. "I think this is about getting Zynga back to profitability, which is a big goal for [CEO] Mark [Pincus]," Hyatt said. "And by eliminating a satellite office, maybe it's seen as something that doesn't affect the morale at headquarters as much."

I've e-mailed Behmaram-Mosavat for comment but haven't heard back. Earlier today, he tweeted, "All we have as leaders is trust and loyalty. Squander that and you lose everything."

Local game companies have been posting on Twitter throughout the afternoon using the hash tag "#Zynga" to let the laid off employees know about job opportunities.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com 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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