Infamous online hacker collective Anonymous has threatened social game developer Zynga (Nasdaq: ZNGA) with the release of confidential company information on Nov. 5, the annual day on which anarchists and revolutionaries honor the memory of Guy Fawkes.
Anonymous, which along with several other groups treats the 17th century revolutionary as an icon, said it is orchestrating the attack against Zynga as a retaliation against the company’s “outrageous treatment of their employees and their actions against many developers.”
Given Zynga’s tumultuous ride in the stock maket since its December 2011 initial public offering, it's unclear what exactly Anonymous meant with “outrageous treatment” of employees and fellow developers. Shares of the San Francisco-based Zynga have fallen 76 percent since the IPO, closing Friday at $2.31.
Since the company’s stock first dove precipitously following a weak second-quarter earnings report, the company has been pressed with lawsuits for both insider trading and copyright infringement and has lost a large portion of its executive-level talent.
But the game developer gained more notoriety last week when it announced a massive round of layoffs, firing more than 100 employees and closing 13 regional studios. The timing of the announcement was particularly suspicious for many of the company’s critics, since it was revealed during Apple’s iPad Mini announcement, leading many to suggest the company was doing its best to sweep new losses under the rug.
“We have come to believe that this action of Zynga will result in massive layoff of a thousand people and legal actions against everyone that speaks to the public about this plan,” Anonymous’ statement said.
“It will also come to end of the U.S. game market as we know it as all this jobs will be replaced in other more convenient financial countries,” the hacker group added. “With a billion dollars cash sitting in a bank we do believe that such actions are an insult to the population and the behavior of corporations like Zynga must change.”
“Anonymous could not allow this to happen, so it's starting to release confidential documents we have leaked on this plan,” it concluded.
In addition to the alleged confidential information, the group said that it has planned other attacks against the company.
“As we speak, we are planning to release also all the games we've taken from their servers for free,” it added. “That being said, we will stop the idea of the distribution of such games if Zynga will cease immediately the plan,” the statement said.