Zynga about to file for IPO

The online gaming powerhouse will file for an initial public offering as early as next week, according to people close to the situation.

Zynga is poised to file for its initial public offering, according to sources close to the situation.

The filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission could come as early as this week, or next week at the latest.

The move is not entirely unexpected, given how well the recent IPOs of several Internet companies have done recently, including business networking site LinkedIn last week and Russian search giant Yandex today.

Their strong performances show the huge investor appetite for fast-growing and high-profile Web 2.0 firms. Wall Street is also prepping for eventual public offerings from social buying site Groupon and, the big fish, Facebook.

Zynga's valuation in its last round of funding was $10 billion, but it is likely to price itself higher in an offering.

After all, LinkedIn now has a market valuation of $9 billion, double its pre-IPO price.

Whatever the price, a Zynga IPO is a major coup, especially given how quickly it has morphed into one of the most important forces in online gaming, largely via distribution on the Facebook platform.

The company claims that it has 250 million people actively playing its games every month. Its largest game currently is CityVille, which attracts 90 million monthly users, reports AppData. Its original Poker game still manages to attract 35 million monthly users.

Its early titles, such as FarmVille and Mafia Wars, first vaunted the San Francisco-based company into consumer prominence, and it has recently struck a number of high-profile branding deals with Lady Gaga and the makers of the upcoming animated movie "Kung Fu Panda 2," among others.

That's also meant a solid business. Zynga reportedly generated about $400 million in profit last year on about $850 million in revenue, although sources said the filing will reveal much more robust numbers.

The company has also grown its work force quickly. Last year, Zynga hired more than 800 people and today has more than 1,500 full-time employees in 13 offices, spanning six countries.

Recently, at the opening of its new Seattle office, its Founder and CEO Mark Pincus-who has tried to hit the start-up jackpot many times before-said he had Amazon-sized ambitions for Zynga, referring to that city's online retail giant.

Depending on how the offering goes, he might want to think bigger.

Sources said Goldman Sachs will be among the lead bankers in the Zynga offering.

Zynga declined to comment on its IPO plans.

 

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