AMA: Neopets Staff Count

This was asked in a comment on my Neopets On-the-Go write-up. I actually hear it quite a bit so I thought I’d give it it’s own post for other folks who are interested. And I also edited it slightly from the response over there to help a bit with clarity, shhh.

I am curious to know how many staff members Neopets had in its prime? It must have dwindled a lot when Jumpstart bought it.
Asked by: Joseph

Interesting question! People’s definition of “prime Neopets” differs, so I’m just going to try and come up with the maximum number of staff we ever had at once. And I’m going to only include people who would have been considered actually on The Neopets Team because of how things worked at Nickelodeon. (We’ll get to that.)

Max Staff

So… I’m gonna say max we ever had was probably 200 people at the most?

That includes “non-production” members of The Neopets Team that didn’t make content for the site but were integral to keeping things running. People always seem to forget about these awesome folks! Like admin & facilities, moderation, support, system admins, QA, legal, marketing, sales, executives, etc. They were the majority of the tally and even though they didn’t work directly on site content, the site wouldn’t have functioned without them.

But I didn’t include some of the Nickelodeon service folks who were a huge help but weren’t really part of The Neopets Team. For example, Nickelodeon gave us real IT people! (Us programmer-types didn’t have to double as tech support anymore. :P) But those people were in our office maybe once a week and worked in the Burbank and Santa Monica offices the rest of the week. They wouldn’t have even considered themselves on the Nickelodeon Games team (our studio), let alone The Neopets Team (one property in our studio).

We also added or removed positions over time. Sometimes that
pulled headcount from one department to create another, and sometimes we just got all new departments or removed others.

So when I say 200 at our max, it’s kind of a ballpark figure that I’m guessing at. I think it happened a couple times in the site’s history, just made up of a different mixture of the types of departments/folks each time.

Production Staff

I think people are most curious about production folks when they ask this question, though? Meaning they want to know how many people directly produced content for the site. Folks like artists, programmers, content, writers, premium, etc. I also consider producers/project managers and localization part of that group. So I can take a stab at those numbers, too, and my guess is probably more accurate. (Barring a few outliers, production folks were always dedicated to one property so they were easier to count.)

I’d say the largest number of production folks we ever had on The Neopets Team was probably 65-70 folks of the 200 total. The majority were artists. They always outnumbered all other production departments by a long shot.

Pre & Post JumpStart Numbers

It’s even harder to figure how many total people we had at the time of the JumpStart sale. The Nickelodeon Games studio had multiple properties at that point and a much larger portion of those non-production roles I mentioned earlier were across all those properties. Some of these folks were definitely part of the Neopets Team! But they were also part of the Monkey Quest Team and the mobile teams, etc. So I can’t even really guess at this one except to say I know it was quite a bit below that 200 number and the majority of them weren’t dedicated.

But for production, it’s much easier. Those numbers were much lower at the time of the JumpStart sale. I’m gonna say it was 35-40 production people. Again, mostly artists. The rest of the departments were running very thin. A good chunk of the artists were then laid off with the sale. So the entire Neopets Team when we first moved to the JS offices—which was the week I left—was I think about 18 people in a room, including the support folks who remained, plus a small handful of mods remotely who hadn’t been let go.

I hope all that makes sense, and that I’m not horrendously off in my counts. (If any ex-staffers reading this have a better estimate, let me know!)

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