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OMGPOP chief backtracks after trading barbs with ex-employee

CEO Dan Porter apologizes for comments he made about Shay Pierce, a former OMGPOP employee who explained why he didn't join Zynga with the rest of his colleagues.

It's not uncommon for a disgruntled employee to share issues about a former employer with the world. But when the CEO gets into the mix, everything escalates. OMGPOP Chief Executive Dan Porter is learning that lesson right now.

The trouble started last week when OMGPOP employee Shay Pierce wrote an editorial on gaming site Gamasutra, saying that he refused to work for Zynga -- the company that had acquired his employer -- because he didn't want to sign over rights to an iOS game he created, called Connectrode. But his troubles with his [prospective new employer extended far beyond his own game.

"When an entity exists in an ecosystem, and acts within that ecosystem in a way that is short-sighted, behaving in a way that is actively destructive to the healthy functioning of that ecosystem and the other entities in it (including, in the long term, themselves) -- yes, I believe that that is evil," Pierce wrote on Gamasutra. "And I believe that Zynga does exactly that."

Zynga announced its acquisition of OMGPOP last week. The social-gaming company acquired OMGPOP for a reported $180 million plus another $30 million in employee-retention payments. Much of OMGPOP's value came via Draw Something, a Pictionary-like game that has skyrocketed to the top of Apple's App Store. Pierce acknowledged that he didn't work on Draw Something at OMGPOP.

Although OMGPOP CEO Dan Porter could have let Pierce's comments slide, he instead took to Twitter over the weekend to respond. He tweeted that Pierce was "the weakest [employee] on the whole team," adding that "selfish people make bad games." He also bid Pierce adieu: "Good riddance!"

But Porter wasn't done yet. In another tweet, the chief executive said that he was surprised by "the number of failures who try to ride on your back. Shay Pierce is just one of many."

In a follow-up statement to GamesBeat, Pierce said that he was confused by Porter's comments, since he was asked to join Zynga.

"I never received any indication from my manager or company that I was performing poorly and about to be let go," Pierce said.

As Porter's comments hit the Twittersphere, it didn't take long for his followers to respond with anger. Even his colleagues across the gaming space were displeased with his comments, with Minecraft creator Markus Persson called him "an insane idiot."

After hearing those complaints loud and clear, Porter quickly removed the offending tweets from his timeline. He also issued a brief apology on Twitter, saying yesterday that he was "sorry for what I said on Twitter last night. No excuses."

In a letter to GamesBeat, Porter added more color to his apology, saying that he reacted so quickly to Pierce's comments because he felt that his team's hard work on Draw Something has been overshadowed.

"When the game blows up and we have the chance of a lifetime to do something special, and one employee, who didn't work on the product, and is more about his own games then the team, jumps in the press and becomes the story, it is very hurtful to all the people who are on team," he told GamesBeat.

For his part, Pierce hasn't taken another crack at Porter or his former employer. Instead, he's focusing his efforts on building his own company, Deep Plaid Games.