MediaFile

Zynga herding its users like sheep from game to game: data

Social games company Zynga is adept at converting its current players to its new games, just as smoothly as some of the top video game franchises like Call of Duty, according to a new 21-page report by the game tracking service and social network Raptr.

The report takes into account more than 3 million Zynga players who use Raptr’s game tracking applications.

“If Zynga were to release a new game tomorrow, our data reveals that 90 percent of users of that new game will come from an old game,” said Dennis Fong, Raptr’s co-founder.

While 90 percent is such a high conversation rate any company might strive to that target, it also means that Zynga could cannibalize its users if it doesn’t find new players.

“A 90 percent average means that only 10 percent of its users are new,” Fong said. “Zynga has its pool of players, which is admittedly very large and they are basically just herding them around from game to game. Where is their growth going to come from? That’s a big question mark.”

Tech wrap: AOL talking merger with Yahoo?

AOL Chief Executive Tim Armstrong has reportedly approached private equity firms to gauge interest in a deal with Yahoo that would place Armstrong as the head of the combined company, according to a Bloomberg report.

CNBC later reported that a source close to Yahoo said the company had no interest in a deal with AOL.

AOL shares closed down 5.3 percent at $14.72 while Yahoo inched up 0.3 pct to $14.48.

Tech wrap: Breaking down Zynga’s possible IPO delay

One of tech’s most anticipated public offerings of the year could be delayed, according to a report in the New York Post on Monday. Online gaming company Zynga may hold off on its IPO until November said The Post, citing a “source close to the company.”

The delay is partly related to questions the SEC has about how Zynga measures its daily and monthly users, as well as its bookings, CNBC reported. “Zynga’s accounting measures are less worrisome to the SEC than Groupon’s, says one person familiar with the matter, but the agency is nonetheless working to make Zynga’s prospectus as accessible to investors as possible,” writes CNBC’s Kate Kelly.

Renowned venture capitalist Alan Patricof, managing director of Greycroft Partners LLC, told Bloomberg TV he thinks Zynga is merely waiting for a “hole in the market,” which he described as a one or two-week period where the markets are up and the underwriting bank “calls up and says we’re going tomorrow.”

Tech wrap: Google impresses investors

Google shares soared in after-hours trade as the company’s second-quarter revenue zoomed past Wall Street expectations. The Internet giant’s net revenue, which excludes fees paid to partner websites, jumped 36 percent to $6.92 billion in the second quarter. That’s not all investors had to cheer, though. Growth in a range of businesses from mobile to online video helped the company ring up a strong quarterly profit that also exceeded investor expectations.  “Google should be viewed as a growth company again this quarter,” Stifel Nicolaus analyst Jordan Rohan told Reuters. “The combination of mobile search, Android, ad exchange, YouTube, and the core search businesses, they’re all doing well. Google is no longer a one-trick pony.”

The pool of underwriters working on Groupon’s upcoming initial public offering just got a lot bigger. The online daily deals website has added 11 new underwriters, including JPMorgan, Allen & Co, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank Securities, William Blair & Co, Citadel Securities, Loop Capital Markets, RBC Capital Markets and the Williams Capital Group, according to an updated regulatory filing. They join Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse, who were the lead underwriters named in the earlier filing.

Blockbuster unveiled a new promotion on Thursday aimed at scooping up Netflix subscribers who are unhappy about new price increases the company announced this week to its streaming-and-DVD plan. Blockbuster, which is owned by Dish Network, offered Netflix customers who switched to one of Blockbuster’s “total access” plans a 30-day free trial. Netflix has tried to deflect the rage from its subscribers. “We knew there would be some people who would be upset,” a company spokesman told the International Business Times recently. “To most people, it’s a latte or two.”

Tech wrap: LinkedIn shares skyrocket in debut

LinkedIn made its remarkable debut on the New York Stock Exchange, at times trading more than 171 percent above its IPO price of $45. The stampede to buy the stock had some remembering back to another time when investors also loved tech stock IPOs: the 1990s and the dotcom bubble.

Does the response to LinkedIn suggest investors are in for another bubble that bursts when the fundamentals overtake the hype? Or is it a sign that investors are hungry for any piece of the social media pie and LinkedIn’s happens to be first out of the oven? While Facebook, Groupon, Twitter and Zynga are still expected to go public, LinkedIn Chief Executive Jeff Weiner cautions that his company’s spectacular debut should not be seen as a proxy for them.

While American social media companies are testing the IPO waters, their European counterparts at Viadao, Mind Candy, Sulake and Telmap are expressing skepticism at the Reuters Global Technology Summit about the sky-high valuations of U.S. start-ups and the potential for another bubble.

TodayInMusic: Pandora adds Chernin and ex-Netflix CFO to board

Pandora_Tim Westergren11Pandora, the popular Internet radio service, has expanded its board membership with two heavyweights of the media world: former News Corp no.2 Peter Chernin and former Netflix CFO Barry McCarthy.

The news will naturally stoke speculation that an IPO is indeed round the corner. Reuters reported last month that the company has met with bankers to discuss a $100 million public offering.

Chernin, wh0 left News Corp in early 2009, now runs his own business in Hollywood called The Chernin Group and Chernin Entertainment investing in media, entertainment and technology businesses.

Today In Music: Q&A with Tim Westergren founder of Pandora

Q&A: Tim Westergren, Founder Pandora

Pandora_Tim Westergren11Pandora is the leading Internet radio service in the United States with more than 75 million registered listeners  claiming more than 50 percent of that market using its free service. It is one of the top five most download apps across smartphones and mobile platforms like iPhone, Android and BlackBerry according to Nielsen research with more than 50 million total mobile downloads.

It was launched on the Web in 2005 by Westergren and to date has raised more than $56.3 million through five rounds of funding according to TechCrunchwith backing from names like Greylock Partners, Hearst Interactive Media and Allen & Co.

Earlier this month sources told Reuters that Pandora has opened early conversations with bankers about a possible $100 million IPO . The company has declined to comment on any details of the potential offering.

Tech M&A: Going down, down, down

Investment bank Jefferies recently released a report on technology M&A in the first quarter of 2009. As one can imagine, there are few surprises. We may as well give you the highlights here, which point to some signs of recovery compared to the end of last year, but clearly there’s still a long way to go:

    The number of tech deals in North America fell 4 percent to 373 in the first quarter from the fourth quarter of 2008. It’s the lowest level of activity in five years, but at least the drop is a manageable 4 percent — in the December quarter, the number of deals dropped 23 percent from the third quarter of 2008. The aggregate value of North American M&A transactions was $4.3 billion in the first quarter, also a 4 percent drop from the prior quarter and an 85 percent plunge from the first quarter of 2008. Not a single tech IPO priced in the U.S. market during the quarter. The biggest tech deal announced in the quarter was Autonomy’s purchase of Interwoven for $764 million. The first quarter of 2009 has only three transactions greater than $500 million, compared to 10 such deals in the year-ago quarter.

The Jefferies survey also looks at tech M&A in Western Europe, which presents a similarly gloomy picture. Nine of the top 10 Western European deals in the first quarter were cross-border, and four of them involved U.S. buyers. The aggregate deal value fell 80 percent to $1.8 billion compared to the fourth quarter of 2008.

But it’s interesting to note that the mix of deals in the software, services and media sub-sector hasn’t changed much quarter to quarter. For example, IT services deals have hovered at about 30 percent of total transactions for the past five quarters, while digital media M&A has ranged from 32 percent to 35 percent of total deals in the same period.

from Entrepreneurial:

Learning from Rosetta Stone

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After its blockbuster debut on the New York Stock Exchange, language software maker Rosetta Stone is poised to teach more than just new languages -- it may also serve as a model for start-ups looking to go public in the midst of a recession.

In an interview with peHUB, Phil Clough of Rosetta Stone investor ABS Capital shared his thoughts on what made the company such a draw. The IPO earned ABS more than 6 times its initial investment.

What did Rosetta do right? For starters, it offered what ABS managing general partner Phil Clough calls "substance".  Its online business business model was attractive, and its content and size gave it clout amid a crowded education sector.

eBay to Skype: we’re no good together

Some tech mergers take a few years to prove their worth.

Hewlett-Packard’s $19 billion acquisition of Compaq Computer ignited a bitter internal board battle when it was announced in 2001, but is now deemed a key ingredient in H-P’s comeback.

No such vindication is on hand for eBay’s $2.6 billion purchase of Internet telephone service Skype: the deal left many scratching their heads when it was announced in 2005 and now it  looks like officially a poor fit in light of eBay’s plan to spin it off in an initial public offering next year.

“It’s clear that Skype has limited synergies with eBay and PayPal,” eBay CEO John Donahoe said Tuesday in a statement unveiling the plan.