Zynga's IPO and the addiction factor

The much-awaited offering of the online gaming company may not be as overpriced as you might expect.

By The Fiscal Times Nov 30, 2011 1:21PM

Image: Couple with laptop (© Daly and Newton/OJO Images/Getty Images)By Suzanne McGee, The Fiscal Times

Got an avid FarmVille player among your family members or Facebook friends? The much-ballyhooed initial public offering of online gaming company Zynga (which counts FarmVille among its offerings) is apparently finally on track for the week before Christmas.

You might want to consider giving shares in the company in the hopes that the FarmVille players on your list will recoup some of what they've paid to Zynga for "gold" and other virtual items.

The IPO underwriters have begun to touch base with prospective institutional investors, trying to get a sense of the market's mood and the kind of valuation those buyers might find acceptable. When Zynga first filed its S-1 statement with regulators this summer -- its notice of intent to go public, complete with all kinds of financial disclosures -- the company valued itself at as much as $20 billion. That's a massive price tag for a company whose "products" include a townhouse that exists only in CityVille cyberspace.

Of course, the dollars that flow into Zynga's coffers are entirely real, and investors will be looking for clues of revenue increases as the company rolls out new games and products tied to existing games. Some of those may be in the revised prospectus the company will file with the Securities and Exchange Commission before making a final decision on the number of shares to offer and the initial price range, and before embarking on a road show.

One potential investor, who encouraged his child to begin playing Zynga games as a way of gauging the degree to which players become addicted and willing to spend, admits that he's tempted to invest after monitoring the results. "The parental credit card has taken a beating," says the investor, who declined to be identified.

Zynga's underwriters hope to get the deal done -- finally -- within the next three weeks, before investors close up shop for the holidays and while market exuberance lingers. Certainly, the first two days of post-Thanksgiving trading offered encouragement for any company stuck in the backlog of IPO deals and eager to go public. A successful Zynga IPO would pave the way for the much larger and more feverishly anticipated IPO of Facebook, rumored to be the highlight of the 2012 calendar.

Tags: IPO


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