Inside Zynga's IPO Pitch
The San Francisco-based company, most widely known for its FarmVille and CityVille games, embarks on a cross-country tour starting Monday to lure potential investors ahead of its IPO.
In these presentations, Zynga management, including CEO Mark Pincus, will focus extensively on the company’s gamble to derive revenue from a massive (and potentially costly) effort to pump new games into the pipeline—as it looks to overcome doubts about its ability to attract paying users to what is largely a free service.
“We are entering the most active launch period in the history of the company,” COO John Shappert says in the presentation, noting that the lion’s share of its 2500 employees are now developing new games versus monetizing old ones—an initiative which is part of the company’s expensive $500 million overhaul of its platform, games, and team.
It’s a strategy the company hopes will pay big dividends for a business model that attracts a tremendous user base, but sees only a tiny fraction of users (in some cases, as few as 4 percent) actually become paying customers.
CEO Mark Pincus puts particular emphasis in the pitch on what presentation materials call a “tectonic” shift in the internet landscape that will result in a massive explosion of social gamers, which the company has high hopes to monetize.
“We have a rule of thumb inside Zynga,” Pincus says in the presentation. “For any category we launch a game in, we expect it to be three to five times the size of the then category leader.”
Whether or not investors will buy into the strategy remains to be seen, as other concerns may bubble to the surface while the company barrels towards its IPO.
One notably absent topic from the company’s pitch was any reference to what some analysts consider Zynga’s elephant in the room: it’s relationship and reliance on Facebook—the massive social network, which provides the company with most of its audience, and also takes a large 30 percent bite out of any revenue the company sees.
“It’s a double-edged sword with them,” Stephanie Chang, Zynga analyst at the IPO research firm Renaissance Capital says of Zynga’s dependence on Facebook. Chang notes that Zynga has made efforts to diversify its gaming platforms away from Facebook, which investors may find a hopeful sign, but says it will be an ongoing and uphill battle with the social giant simply because of their tremendous reach.
Whether or not Pincus and company will address the issue in presentations, it will likely be a hot topic during question and answer sessions.
Zynga’s has filed for an IPO that could raise up to roughly $1 billion, which would value the company at around $9 billion.
The company is expected to price its IPO on December 15 and to start trading the following day under the Nasdaq ticker ZNGA.
Follow Jesse Bergman on Twitter: @JBergmanCNBC