After announcing its lofty IPO goals last week, Zynga has taken its show on the road, trying its hardest to convince investors to pony up for a service that only 3 percent of its users pay for. Zynga's angling for the biggest IPO since Google raised $1.67 billion in 2004. Considering the way things went for Groupon, the general state of the economy, and the tech industry -- just last week three other companies postponed their IPOS -- Zynga has a lot working against it. And then on top of all that, Zynga has its own cred to defend. How exactly does one sell FarmVille, a game about pigs that most people don't pay to play, for an eventual $7 billion valuation?
Zynga CEO Mark Pincus is addressing investor's biggest concerns: growth and paid subscriptions. Zynga's revenue comes from people who buy things to use in the game, like farm tools. But, out of the 227 million monthly active users, only 7.7 million of those pay for these implements. The other 97 percent just play for free. Pincus has told investors "we could see that doubling," reports Reuters's Tim McClaughlin. Of course, he didn't give a time-frame or say how. So really, that's not much of a promise. But it indicates growth, another issue for investors, who worry about Zynga's reliance on Facebook. That's where Zynga makes 95 percent of its money, but traffic numbers for most of its games are declining, pointed out TechCrunch's Eric Eldon, and Facebook has limited the gaming platform's marketing capabilities. But even with its Facebook woes, Pincus emphasized that the company is growing, pointing to an increase in mobile traffic from 11.1 to 13 million users in just a month. And with high profile players, like Alec Baldwin, giving Words With Friends game some free marketing -- -- clearly the games have value, argues Pincus.
So far, Pincus has succeeded in using these vague promises to get investors to commit. Just a few days in, Zynga has gotten enough orders to cover all the shares it plans on selling, sources told Bloomberg's Zijing Wu and Douglas MacMillan. Zynga plans on selling 100 million shares at between $8.50 to $10. While a good sign, the orders don't mean investors will buy, argues Lise Buyer, who works at IPO advisory firm Class V Group. "They’re off to a promising start," Buyer told Wu and MacMillan. "But it’s way too early to draw any conclusions because an indication in the book is not a commitment. If the euro zone falls apart on the 9th, all bets are off."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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