Zynga: 10 things you didn't know about the social gaming company
Zynga, most famous for creating FarmVille, the hugely popular Facebook game, didn’t exist three years ago and now is reportedly worth $5.5 billion.
Having created a host of other successful games, such as Frontier Ville and Mafia Wars, the company has become a major cash generative platform on top of Facebook and claims to be the largest social game network online.
Last week, while I was in San Francisco, for the annual Web 2.0 Summit, I spent a couple of hours at Zynga’s vast office campus talking to Mark Pincus, the company’s co-founder and chief, and enjoying a tour of the large start-up. Here are 10 fun facts I learned about Zynga en route:
1. Zynga is named after Mark Pincus’s dog, who is now sadly dead, but lives on as the company mascot. Zynga’s logo is a dog, and it adorns nearly every wall of its sprawling offices.
2. Pincus comes from a competitive family who loved playing Trivial Pursuit so much that they threw away the board and “just read the cards” at each other. Pincus missed that social interaction when gaming online and hence Zynga, the social gaming company, was born.
3. Every day at Zynga is ‘bring your dog to work day’. Consequently there are dogs running around everywhere.
4. The dog theme even runs as far as the name of the company’s wifi network – which is appropriately called ‘puppynet’.
5. Zynga is based in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill, which is where a lot of major technology companies were based prior to dotcom crash in the early part of 2000, before upping sticks and moving out. It has recently outgrown its current offices and signed a seven year lease for a 270,000 square foot office half a mile away.
6. In 2010 alone, the company hired 850 people, bringing its total headcount to over 1,300 people, some three years after Zynga’s founding.
7. Eighty per cent of a new game’s development happens post-release. The team monitor how the community of players are reacting to a game’s features and feed it into the development of the game in real-time.
Unlike more traditional video games, people can keep adding features and playing with Zynga’s games, in theory, forever. The games are specifically designed to have no end.
8. Before a new game launch, everyone working in Zynga’s games studio goes home and sleeps for the whole weekend, because they then barely sleep for a month as they get feedback from players ‘almost every second’.
9. Mark Pincus wants ‘Zynga’ to become a verb for ‘play’, as Google has become a verb for search, online.
10. Thirty-three million people around the world have downloaded FarmVille, Zynga’s most popular game to date, and currently there are 60 million active players. Five hundred million of acres of farm land has been farmed in the last 15 months.