Zynga, the 7-year-old social gaming company behind the ubiquitous Words with Friends and Farmville, announced the layoffs of 314 employees this week, which amounts to about 15 percent of its staff. The company hopes the cuts will save them up to $35 million this year. Zynga currently employs 2,100 people, down from 3,300 in 2012.
CEO Don Mattrick also announced the $527 million purchase (in both cash and equity) of interactive company NaturalMotion, Zynga's largest acquisition to date. The company bought OMGPOP, the company behind the once-viral app Draw Something, for $200 million in 2012.
NaturalMotion was founded in 2001 and is based out of Oxford, England. Zynga will be gaining 260 new employees from the acquisition. It's the maker of mobile games such as Clumsy Ninja and My Horse. The company has also developed animation technologies called Euphoria and Morpheme that have been used in popular games like Grand Theft Auto IV and BioShock Infinite, respectively.
Zynga has been navigating choppy waters for some time. Last summer, the company axed 500 jobs and founder Mark Pincus was replaced as CEO by Mattrick, the former head of Microsoft's Xbox division.
While there was a time when it seemed almost impossible to scroll through Facebook without seeing someone's purchase of virtual livestock, King.com, the creator of Candy Crush Saga is currently the No. 1 maker of games for the site. With the purchase of NaturalMotion, Zynga is aiming to be major player in the mobile market.
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