“Do you want to play Atari?”
Mark Pincus is sharing an inscription from his high school yearbook with a roomful of journalists at his company Zynga’s San Francisco headquarters.
The purpose of this event, called Zynga Unleashed, is to reveal the roadmap of one of Silicon Valley’s fastest growing companies – but right now Pincus is looking back.
“I spent my youth trying to get everyone around me to play games,” he continues. “But somewhere between high school in my first job, games stopped happening. I think that video games were too complicated for the people around me and I couldn’t rationalize sitting and playing alone.”
The narrative Pincus is spinning omits a few twists and turns: the overseas stint, Harvard, the Washington years and the failed social network. He jumps right into the chip factory, five blocks down the road, where his multibillion dollar gaming company got its start five years ago.
“I set out with a small group of people to make gaming free, social and accessible. And something that would bring my friends and family back to play,” he relates, pressing a clicker that keeps the slides moving.