Raising The Stakes

It always amuses me that our portfolio company Zynga got its start with Poker. Because as I always tell Mark Pincus, founder and CEO of Zynga, he’s playing this hand pretty well.

And Mark seems to like the hand he’s got right now because Zynga has just raised the stakes in the social games category with the announcement of a $29mm financing round, the addition of Bing Gordon to Zynga’s board, the addition of Kleiner Perkins and IVP to the investor base, and the acquisition of YoVille.

As Erick Schonfeld says about Mark in Techcrunch:

he [Mark] feels the stakes are about to get higher as the worlds of casual
social gaming and online video games collide. That means he will have
to spend more money on both production values and marketing.

Of all the things that Zynga is doing, I think the most impactful is the addition of Bing Gordon to the Board and effectively to the Company. Bing joined EA in 1982 and brings 26 years of videogame experience to Zynga. That’s more years than many of Zynga’s awesome employees have spent on planet earth! Mark says this about Bing in the Techcrunch post:

He is super-involved in product strategy, brings the
gaming DNA to us, and is an amazing CEO coach. He’s already stopped us
from doing stupid things.

I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Bing pretty well through his involvement with Zynga which started late last year. And I am thrilled that he and his partners at Kleiner and also IVP is involved in Zynga. This poker hand just got a lot more interesting.