Zynga is beefing up its board of directors by announcing today that it has added Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO and co-founder of DreamWorks Animation.
Katzenberg, who created the animation studio along with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, marks the sixth board member of the privately held social-games company, which earned a jaw-dropping profit of $400 million on $850 million in revenues last year.
Zynga CEO and founder Mark Pincus made the announcement in a blog post today on the company's Web site: "I knew he'd be a great fit for the board after he suggested that the blockbuster of 2011 could be ShrekVille."
Pincus continued to joke that Katzenberg will help recruit a seventh member to the board (maybe Jack Black or Mike Myers?).
But more seriously, Katzenberg's appointment signals Zynga's desire to evolve from a well recognized and successful Silicon Valley start-up to a large consumer brand name and entertainment company.
Social gaming on Facebook so far is in its infancy.
Zynga has been able to profit handsomely off no-name games, like FarmVille, CityVille, and Mafia Wars. Critics argue that it will have to turn those franchises into brands as the market matures and gets inundated by well-recognized brands. That progression has already started to take shape with Electronic Arts' acquisition of Playfish and what Disney has planned with its purchase of Playdom.
Having an answer to this question will be key as Zynga considers raising up to $250 million in capital, and positions itself for a potential IPO.
"DreamWorks Animation is a revolutionary technology company, a recognized consumer brand and, at its core, a media company. It's easy to see the value that Jeffrey will add to Zynga as we grow and look for more ways to delight our players," Pincus wrote.
In a statement, he added: "Jeffrey redefined storytelling when he launched DreamWorks Animation. He turned an independent studio into a brand name and his vision will be an asset as we work to define the future of play."
Katzenberg can offer that outside perspective as the board's only member not in Silicon Valley. He joins Pincus; Owen Van Natta, Zynga's executive vice president of business; Bing Gordon, partner at Kleiner Perkins; Brad Feld, managing director of Foundry Group; and Reid Hoffman, founder and chairman of LinkedIn.