The farm is going public.
Farmville that is. Farmville and every other game created and published by Zynga Inc.
The San Francisco based social gaming company has filed for an initial public offering (IPO) according to an SEC filing. Zynga becomes the latest major social company to do so following in the footsteps of LinkedIn, which had an impressive IPO of its own last month. Zynga looks to raise $1 billion for its IPO. LinkedIn, which is trading at $94.11 per share, raised $1.67 billion and became the biggest tech IPO since Google in 2004.
Zynga is the company behind Farmville, Mafia Wars, Words With Friends, Empires and Allies and many popular social games. The company was only founded in 2007, but due to the fact its interactive games have been popular on social networks like Facebook, it grew rapidly.
We founded Zynga in 2007 with the mission of connecting the world through games. We believed play-like search, share and shop-would become one of the core activities on the internet, Mark Pincus, founder and chief executive of Zynga, said in a letter to shareholders.
The company has 2,000 employees and 232 million monthly active users. Overall, Zynga gets 148 million monthly unique users in 166 countries from its games. The games are free but most come with virtual items that cost additional money. Zynga has generated billions in revenue from thesae virtual goods alone.
Zynga's solid financials put it in a better spot than some of its social brethren, which have had trouble finding revenue sources. Thanks to Zynga's virtual goods, it has a constant stream of cash coming in each month. In the first quarter of 2011, Zygna had a net income of $11.8 million. It had revenue of $235 million during the same time period.
The company is an industry that is destined to grow before it retracts. According to researcher, eMarketer, revenue for the social gaming industry will hit $1.09 billion in 2011. According to In-State, the worldwide market for the sale of virtual goods was $7.3 billion in 2010 and will double by 2014.
Zynga also uses sponsorships and ads to generate revenue. For instance, the company has a relationship with Starbucks, which pays to have a virtual coffee shop in CityVille.
In the SEC filing, Zynga did mention several varying risks related to its industry and itself as a company. One such risk is its relationship with Facebook. The company said if it is unable to maintain a good relationship with Facebook, its business will suffer.
We have benefited from Facebook's strong brand recognition and large user base. If Facebook loses its market position or otherwise falls out of favor with Internet users, we would need to identify alternative channels for marketing, promoting and distributing our games, which would consume substantial resources and may not be effective, Zynga said in the filing.
It also acknowledges the fact that the industry is new, changing and has a lot of new entrants. Zynga said competition in the social gaming world is intense. Interestingly enough, the company also said it relies on a small percentage of its players for nearly all of its revenue. The company also said its top games make up the majority of its revenue and it will have to do a better job of expanding.
Underwriting the deal for Zynga is Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Barclays, JP Morgan and Allen & Co.
Follow Gabriel Perna on Twitter at @GabrielSPerna