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September 14, 2009

Zynga Opens the World to Online Games

Filed under: Start-up Companies Reviews — admin @ 5:32 am

For the past ten years that the internet is growing with new social networks popping up like mushrooms after a rainstorm, so has the video game industry. The internet has opened a whole new world of interactive video games has been opened. One of the newest websites that has opened is Zynga. Zynga offers video games to some of the major social networks out on the web.

As you go onto the Zynga homepage, you will notice a series of choices from which to choose from. You can click on the about link to find information about Zynga and you can also see what games are available on Zynga. The homepage has featured games and other games that you can play with. You do not need to sign into Zynga to play its games. The one thing, however, is that you need to be a member of a particular social network to play the games that are on Zynga. If you click on one of the featured games on the website, you will notice the picture of the game and a paragraph which explains what the game is about and what the object of the game is. Also, you can see on what social network you can play a particular game on. Some games will only allow you to play on one particular social network, such as Facebook or MySpace, whereas other games can be played on several different social networks. For example, one of the current featured games on Zynga is FarmeVille, which is a game that is intended for the whole family and allows you to have your own farm; where you can have your own farm animals, fruit trees, and grow your own vegetables. This game can only be played on Facebook. On the other hand, another game that is featured on Zynga, called YoVille, is a game that is aimed at the teen community. This video game is playable on three social networks, which are Tagged, Facebook, and MySpace. Other games can be played on all the social networks that are available.

Though Zynga is dedicated to online video games, playing video games is not the only thing you can do on Zynga. Zynga also has a forum where you can talk or ask about different games that are featured on Zynga.

Zynga also offers certain games which can be played on your iPhone. Currently, Zynga only has a limited selection of games that are apps for your iPhone, but as the website continues to grow, there will be more games available for the iPhone. Some of the video games that are made for the iPhone on the Zynga site include Mafia Wars, Pirates, and Dragon Wars.

Zynga was founded in 2007 by Mark Pincus, who still works at the company as its CEO. Mr. Pincus created Zynga out of two of his greatest passions, competitive online gaming and entrepreneurship. Zynga is not the first company that Mr. Pincus successfully founded. Other social networks that Mr. Pincus founded include Tribe.net, which he founded in 2003 and was one of the first social networks. Mr. Pincus was also the founder of SupportSoft, where he stayed as the company’s CEO until he founded Tribe.net. Mr. Pincus was also a cofounder of Freeloader.

Zynga’s main investors include Avalon Ventures, Clarium Capital, the Foundry Group, the Pilot Group, and Union Square Ventures, which invested $10 million in seed funding in January of 2008. Then, in July of 2008, KPCB and IVP joined the above mentioned investors in a $29 million investment in series B funding for Zynga.

Individual investors who helped lead the investment in the company include Bing Gordon of Kliener, Perkins, Caufield & Byers or KPCB, which is a vc firm that is passionate about helping its portfolio companies. The people at KPCB are dedicated to have their portfolio companies succeed and know that it takes much more than just financial sponsorship to make a company succeed. Mr. Gordon is widely known in the video game industry as one of the founding fathers of the video game industry. Mr. Gordon and Mr. Pincus work and think together and do some of their best thinking on long bike rides in Marin. Other companies in KPCB’s portfolio include Amazon, Google, Aerohive Networks, AOptics, Kodiak Networks, and others.

Clarium Capital is a vc firm that is based in San Francisco, California and pursues global macro strategy. The key person who led Clarium Capital to fund Zynga is Peter Thiel, who is the vc firm’s managing partner. Mr. Thiel runs a large macro hedge fund and was also one of the leading investors of Facebook.

Based in Monrovia, California, the Pilot Group is a manufacturer of small electronic components. The main people of the Pilot Group who led the Pilot Group’s investment in Zynga are Bob Pittman and Andy Russell. Mr. Pittman was the founder of MTV and also has experience in running some major consumer franchises; such as the large real estate franchise, Century 21; and America’s largest internet provider, AOL.

The Foundry Group is a vc firm that primarily invests in early stage IT companies which show great potential for market success. The main person who was behind the Foundry’s investment into Zynga is Brad Feld. Mr. Feld is also a friend of Zynga’s founder, Mr. Pincus. The two met when Mr. Feld worked at SoftBank. Some other companies in the Foundry’s portfolio include AdMeld, Brightleaf, Gist, Gnip, Lijit Networks, and others.

Based in New York City, Union Square Ventures is a vc firm that primarily invests in early stage companies who are in the IT enabled services, media and marketing, healthcare, financial services, and telecom verticals industries. The key person who led Union Square’s investment into Zynga was Fred Wilson, who knew Mr. Pincus for a long time and encouraged him to become an entrepreneur in 1995. After Mr. Pincus took Mr. Wilson’s advise, he went on to found Freeloader, which Mr. Wilson backed with funding.

Zynga does have some competitors, however, the most noteworthy competitor of Zynga is Playfish, which is an online gaming social network that has a product which is similar to the product that Zynga offers. Playfish is a privately owned corporation which is based in London, England and was founded in October of 2007. The company has four people on its management team and three people on its board of directors.

For more information about Zynga, click here.

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