The Valley of the Dollars: Facebook Shines, Zynga Shadowed

Data from private equity transactions values Facebook at $11.5 billion

Facebook is beating all comers among hot Silicon Valley startups with a company valuation of $11.5 billion, according to research and transaction data from a market in private equity compiled by SharesPost.

Twitter is valued at a scant $1.44 billion -- only slightly ahead of more buttoned-down Facebook competitor LinkedIn.

But don't expect Facebook to float an initial public offering any time soon. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company would go public eventually but "we're in no rush."

Surprisingly, game developer Zynga which offers popular Facebook time-wasters like FarmVille and Mafia Wars, was valued at a whopping $2.61 billion -- which is a whole lot of virtual pigs!

Zynga may be in the money, but it has struggled with its reputation. It recently amended its advertising and promotions policy in the wake of confusing offer scams that signed people up for expensive text-message subscriptions and other unwanted services, is embroiled in a new controversy.

Brazilian newspaper Folha took issue with Zynga's charitable efforts in the wake of the earthquake in Haiti, suggesting that users urged to buy in-game virtual goods with real money might have easily been confused as to how much of their money was going to Haiti -- Zynga promised 100 percent of proceeds.

Zynga responded that the confusion arose because the company was already running an earlier campaign for Haiti donations that promised 50 percent of a purchase would go to supporting food relief in that country.

Of course, the easy answer for Zynga -- and the one that might inspire a little more confidence in the company's handling of charitable giving -- would be to simply put the confusion to rest by giving all the money from the earlier charitable campaign to Haiti, too.

After all, it costs Zynga almost nothing to sell you imaginary corn for real American dollars. And with a valuation in the billions of dollars, it would seem Zynga could afford a little extra charity to cement its do-gooding image.

Jackson West will pay for a game, but finds paying for virtual "gifts" somewhat ridiculous.

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