Zynga Files $1 Billion IPO Fueled By Virtual Farms, Mob Wars and Cityscapes

The game makers behind mega Facebook games Farmville, CityVille and Mafia Wars today filed papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission to take Zynga public in hopes of raising $1 billion.

The billion dollar price tag, though, could change once bankers determine the true value of shares and how many can be sold.

In an open letter to "potential Zynga shareholders", Zynga founder and CEO Mark Pincus outlined the 4-year-old company's future mission and invited those investors along for the ride.

"With this offering we are inviting you to join our mission," he wrote. "Invest with us because you believe in the potential for the world to play together. Evaluate us by how many of your friends and family play our games. Before you invest, we hope you will play our games. And, if you're part of the hundreds of millions who have already played our games, thank you. You're part of the future."

In their notice to the SEC, the company says they plan to use the money for the purpose of building up working capital, marketing and, most relevant to most of us, making more games. The shares the company manages to sell will be broken down into three classes.

This SEC filing is the first chance we've had to see the financials of the privately-held company. According to the filing, Zynga's profits jumped from $4.5 million in 2008 to $392.7 million last year.

In his open letter, Pincus said that his company's operating philosophies are key to its success.

Games should be accessible to everyone, anywhere, any time, he wrote. They should be social, free, data driven and, finally, good.

Moving forward, Pincus promises that the company will be making big investments in the back end that keep the company's many games functioning. That means more servers, data centers and a better infrastructure to cut down on the delay a gamer might see in getting to their favorite experience.

He also warned that a public Zynga will be a developer and publisher that doesn't worry about quarterly earnings and instead focuses on long term innovation and growth.

"At Zynga, we feel a personal connection to our games through our friends and family. I love that my brother in-law, who has five kids and no free time, religiously plays our game Words with Friends," Pincus wrote. "While I'm humbled by the size of the audience we enable to play today, we're just getting started. We're thinking every day how much more accessible, social and fun our games can get."

The key to Zynga's success, Pincus writes, is in the ability for play to become as much a part of the interenet's core as search, share and shop currently are.

"Play is one of life's big macros-it's an activity people love to do and do often," he wrote. "Zynga was founded on a deeply held passion for games that family and friends play together-connecting, collaborating, gifting, bragging, nurturing, admiring and sometimes just doing silly stuff together. Reality is, we all wish we had more time to play together."


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