With what’s expected to be an almost $20 billion IPO looming, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus is starting to wish he hadn’t given out so much stock to attract early employees to his company. So he’s doing something unheard of: He’s demanding employees give their stock back or be fired, the Wall Street Journal reports. The move could rock Silicon Valley, whose startups have long relied on the prospect of stock wealth to lure talent.
Zynga executives say they’re trying to prevent a “Google chef” situation—the infamous incident in which a chef hired early at Google made off with $20 million after its IPO. So they’ve compiled a list of employees they don’t think deserve their payouts. They’re asking them to return only the portion of their stock award that’s not vested—meaning if they get fired, they’ll lose it anyway. Many said the goal was to use that stock to hire yet more, theoretically more productive new hires. (Read more Zynga stories.)