Zynga Bets The Farm on IPO

Is this the launch of casual gaming companies?

By Scott Budman
|  Friday, Dec 16, 2011  |  Updated 9:42 AM PDT
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Zynga Bets The Farm on IPO

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Famous for letting people virtually farm, Zynga (ZNGA) just harvested a cool billion dollars by going public.  The early returns are meager from investors, but for Zynga's bank account, a billion dollars is, in the words of Sean Parker, cool.

So where does the company go from here?  It's the indisputed lead dog in the world of social gaming, and that's a pretty good world in which to do business.  I remember when Zynga first pitched its digital tractors, cows, and poker games.  People scoffed, criticizing the graphics, and giving Zynga little change of taking on gaming giants like Electronic Arts.

But then, on my first trip to Zynga's then headquarters, I saw Bing Gordon walking around.  Gordon is legendary in the gaming world, bringing EA to prominence.  Now, as an advisor to Zynga, he's bringing the big company's mojo to the smaller company, and is being richly rewarded.  EA is struggling to move titles that look beautiful on a big screen, while Zynga is pulling in profits with tiny farms on your computer screen.

Oh, and by the way, which gaming company has been linked to the likes of Lady Gaga and Snoop Dog?  That's right, the little guy.

What will be interesting to watch from here is, what happens now that Zynga can't claim to be the upstart any more.  The gutsy little company with the rogue CEO is now public, with a billion in the bank and a valuation many times that.

We've now seen a pure social media play go public.  Not surprisingly, investors are reacting by saying, "OK, a billion dollars made, what have you done for me lately?"  That's healthy for a stock.  If you're a Zynga investor, you'll now be watching to see how healthy those tractor and seed sales are from here.

Scott is on Twitter: @scottbudman

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