From Wall Street Analyst to Game Producer?
Our portfolio company Zynga is looking to hire a bunch of new product managers for their social games. And they are looking for them in an interesting place – Wall Street.
As founder/CEO Mark Pincus explained to me in an email, the product manager position requires strong analytical skills and a desire to do whatever it takes to get it right. They are finding that young people coming out of two year analyst programs (both consulting and investment banking) who are passionate about games and social networking are doing very well in this position. So they are looking for more.
Here's the spec:
Zynga’s Product Manager will be responsible for creating a list of
features to one of our hit games! This person will have to work
independently to provide a detailed roadmap on the implementation
process. The implementation process should include designing,
executing, and optimizing the feature(s).They’ll own the outcome of
these new features by working with our talented team of engineers to
get the features implemented.
• We are looking for an enthusiastic, performance-driven self-starter and team player
• Demonstrated capacity for developing and understanding strategy
• Strong aptitude for determining the optimal way to position products in the market
• Strong passion for games
• Strong organizational and analytical skills & attention to detail
• BA/BS degree – CS/EE/Engineering degree preferred
• 2-5 years of experience in product management in consumer web
or game development OR another extremely analytical workplace!
• Passion for creating fun, compelling and addictive user experiences
• Passion for writing product specifications, white papers
• Outstanding written and oral communication skills
• Previous start-up experience is a strong plus, especially in social networking
Apply by sending your resume to [email protected] !
How would someone have 2-5 years experience in consumer web or game development if they work in Wall Street?
It says OR in the spec
@fredwilson Spot on! No better place to learn analytical skills and work ethic than a 2 year IBanking trek. I know cause I did it myself.
Fred,Why does this post mention an age preference?”They are finding that young people coming out of two year analyst programs (both consulting and investment banking) who are passionate about games and social networking are doing very well in this position.”I can think of many folks among my former investment banking/financial services colleagues that could be strong candidates for this position, however, the stated preference for “youth” will be problematic.Also, emphasizing age in a job description may violate EEOC guidelines.Just some food for thought
They are targeting two year analyst programs for candidates. That was the point. They’ll hire anyone who is great
I totally agree, having been in manufacturing, telecoms, technology and gaming + financial services now. I have noticed that smart guys/girls spanning multiple industries, they can take a out of the box view/strategy..problems is people tend to be narrow minded. convergence is the [email protected]
This sounds like a great opportunity.
We’ve gone down this path pretty intensely for some recent hires, but the issue we face is that our salaries cannot match what people are used to on Wall Street. I’m curious to hear how your portfolio companies get past this, as they are typically early to mid-stage startups.
We don’t match salaries but we do offer equity
Fred, I’m actually surprised by this. First, keeping up with the tech sector has to be a must, and how much time do investment bankers have to do that? Second, analytical skills are good, but the description mentions coming up with the roadmap, etc, which requires engineering skills, the kind of skills that you wouldn’t have unless you were in the tech sector (even if you have a CS degree). On the other hand, people coming out of a two year analyst program seem to be smart enough, and willing and able to work long hours. Maybe this is what the requirement should be?ps btw, facebook connect seems to be broken.
As a business guy, I understand the rationale, and I think it could lead to highly optimized and profitable social games. As a game guy, though, I dread it, since in 90% of the cases those new recruits will give birth to more “spreadsheet games” a la Mafia Wars, which are very successful and fun for a while, but are all based on the same underlying game mechanic, and don’t really innovate much in terms of game design (although they did initiallyin terms of business model and viral model).Designing games is both an art and a science, and I think most social games companies are focusing on the first part more than the other (with maybe one exception). IMHO, more balance is needed. Maybe getting game guys to design the games, and finance guys to operate them would lead to better results, or maybe a mix of the two. Otherwise, social game companies will find themselves in a tight spot sooner or later, since spreadsheet games have a limited lifespan and people tend to get bored of them after a while. They will then jump from one to the other a few times but, unless something radically new is introduced, they will then drift away.A balance between art (game design) and science (metrics) will be paramount to the success of any social gaming company.
Well, their description belies Mark’s email to you in one respect:”CS/EE/Engineering degree preferred”OK, which is it? I get that both WS analysts and CS/EE people are analytical types but one of my hot buttons is this ‘preferred’ language in job descriptions. If it’s important, make it a requirement, if not leave it out. I can see why driven, analytical people with a passion for the space would make good PMs (that’s almost the definition of a good PM after all) but either the CS stuff is key or it isn’t. Since they’ve had success with people who don’t have it… drop it.
There’s an OR in the spec
Yeah, in the linke below. But to me if the very technical background is important, require it. If not, you’ve covered wanting analytical stuff elsewhere. But then, yes, I’m just being picky.
This is an interesting approach. I’d curious to hear how it goes in 1 to 2 years.I worked in product management for almost a decade now. The best product managers I worked with have the following attributes:1) they’re very politically savvy. Product Management is a very political job. You don’t directly manage the developers, program managers, UI designers, etc., but you’re ultimately responsible for the product’s success. You need to be able to establish credibility, influence people, resolve conflict, etc.From what I’ve heard from my banking friends, the banking culture is pretty rough. I think young analysts with banking experience could have good communication skills. But, if they’re overly arrogant and business like, they could alienate developers.2) good product managers have deep functional knowledge. In the case of making games, the PM should be gamers themselves. I guess if the analysts are gamers themselves, they’d meet this criteria.3) good product managers are comfortable with technology. They don’t need to be super technical, but they need to be able to ask the right question, and understand the basics. Again, I think banking analysts with a technical undergraduate degree can handle this.I think I’d be mostly concerned about the political skill aspect of those banking analysts with a few years of experience. If they can throw their egos out of the door, have the patience and leadership skills to drive a cross-functional team, this hiring approach could work.
That’s great feedback. I appreciate it