Zynga, a privately held company until its 2011 IPO, develops social games (casual games) played essentially on various social networks including Facebook, as well as on mobile devices including the Android-based ones, iPhone and iPad. It has become well known for titles such as Farmville, CityVille or CastleVille.
Zynga was founded by a group of people with serial entrepreneur Mark Pincus emerging as the “lead entrepreneur” and driver, majority owner and CEO of the firm.
Zynga grew very fast in terms of employees and soon viewed itself as the world’s leading online social game developer. It went public (IPO) in December 2011 and the IPO valued the gamemaker at about $7 billion.
However, Zynga, with a highly questionable corporate culture and leadership issues, experienced a dramatic decline of market capitalization; it lost about 70 percent of its stock value by September 2012.
The case provides insights into the influence of the personality and character of the founder(s), the corporate culture, the necessary fast response to technological changes (Internet computers to mobile devices for games) and customers’ (gamers’) preferences in a “playing as entertainment” environment.
Additionally it sheds light on Zynga as the face of an overhyped Web initial public offering with an overall conclusion (in the literature) of its case:
“Instead it’s going to be a Harvard Business School case study on founder overreach – this will be a cautionary tale.”