Zynga Game Network

We announced another investment on the Union Square Ventures blog this morning. It’s called Zynga Game Network. The New York Times also has a story on Zynga this morning.

Zynga is the first investment we’ve made in a company that has no website (that will change today I think). To date, all of Zynga’s properties are social networking apps, specifically casual games that run on Facebook, Bebo, and Friendster. Zynga is the largest social gaming network and one of the largest app developers on all of Facebook.

I described our investment thesis in detail in the Union Square Ventures blog post. If you are interested in the logic behind this investment, go check out that post.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Joe Lazarus

    Another smart investment. I spent quite a bit of time researching Facebook apps during the last few months of my old job. Mark is definitely leading the pack in terms of developing apps that are engaging and have actual monetization potential. Congrats!By the way, the date on your USV post says December 22 for some reason. Just thought you might like to know in case it’s a bug.

  2. Andrew

    Fred, you started my thoughts on a twisting trail that ended up in Springfield for the classic Simpsons episode “Marge vs. the Monorail.”http://changingway.org/2008…

  3. Dominic Carrozza

    Fred,What is very interesting about casual gaming, is that top demographic is women (2/3) with the majority over 35. This has to be an extremely appealing statistic to potential advertisers.

  4. Guest

    Not having a website for a web company is SO PUNK ROCK! :)Sounds cool!

  5. bobngu

    Ah, another example of a VC investing in the startup of a friend. I wonder if the term VC should be renamed to “Friends and Family Funds” only. I have heard of similar issues with seed funds like Founders Fund. I went to an entrepreneurs meeting recently and this subject was brought up by someone who have met with quite a few angel investors (as well as a couple early stage VCs), and the general consensus is that without user adoption (or some super proprietary technology), it’s going to be very difficult for a web start-up to raise a seed round unless you have a prior working relationship with the VC already established.So my question is this, is it getting harder to get funding for Web startups now as compared to last couple of years or is it that only friends of VCs get funding?

    1. fredwilson

      bobngu – it’s a good point you raise. the way i became friends with mark was by investing in his first startup in 1995 (freeloader which he did with Sunil Paul)since then i have backed each of them (mark on several occasions)so this is more a matter of following successful entrepreneurs again and again than backing friends.often times, they become one in the same.fred

      1. bobngu

        From the Union Square Venture blog, this snippet…”Mark is absolutely right that there will be many more companies that we’ll invest in going forward that start that way.”So I take it to mean in general that you will likely invest in companies started by people you already know that starts out as a facebook app. It’s still going to be tough going for unproven entrepreneurs to get funding. IMO, this is an important distinction.

        1. fredwilson

          bobngu – we have made a number of investments in unproven entrepreneurs including Rob Kalin/Etsy, David Karp/Tumblr, Jack Dorsey/Twitter, and several others. i wrote a post about this about a year ago that explains how we think about thishttp://www.unionsquareventu…i hope that helpsfred

          1. markslater

            but the proprietary nature of your dealflow is somewhat guarded by your social network, that in turn you are investing in….;)

          2. bobngu

            Thanks Fred, great article. It gives me hope as a seasoned software professional, but relatively newish entrepreneur, getting my start in the web space. For my current startup, JiggyMe, I am a one-man army and developed the whole site by myself using Ruby on Rails on Linux, Apache, MySQL, and Mongrel. I have never seek VC nor angel money because it is primarily opportunity cost for me plus $25/monthly VPS hosting fee. It has opened my eyes to how cheap it is to launch a web 2.0 site these days.

          3. fredwilson


  6. Stevie

    I love it! I’ve had the conversation many times with friends over the past few months about how folks in the gaming space just aren’t getting it when it comes to social networks and anything else in the neighborhood. Zynga is fantastically positioned.

  7. Giordano

    Hi Fred,I didn’t know you were a casual gamer! Smart move, lots of movement in the space, and 2008 is going to be interesting.Have you tried our games?www.popcap.comI recommend Peggle. But be careful, is addictive (Wired defined it “chocolate-covered crack cocaine”)!Cheers, Giordano

    1. fredwilson

      I’ll try it giordano. Sounds like fun!Fred

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  9. Richard Krueger

    Fred, another smart investment. Mark is certainly a good horse to bet on and I can’t think of a more promising space than ad-supported social gaming. And, the NY Times article is correct in that branded games will soon dominate across networks. Why play chess when you can play Kasparov chess. Same is true with games like Battleship, Scrabble, etc. I guess it means new licensing opportunities for owners of strong IPs.

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  11. charles carroll jr

    the site wont allow me access i cant log in you have no record of my account when i tried to register it says you alredy have a account with that name what else should i trey

    1. fredwilson

      Try contacting zynga customer support. Sorry about that!