Zynga CEO: Half of social web users will be social gamers

December 2, 2009

Don’t ask Zynga’s Mark Pincus how much money his company is making.

The founder of the hot social gaming company, which is operating at a more than $200 million yearly run rate according to sources familiar with the matter, said sharing such information would contribute to the kind of hype that would be bad for the nascent industry.

“I just hope that we can all partner to try to get the story out in a balanced way, so that the media doesn’t necessarily have to go back and forth, ‘This is the next great coming,’ and hyping it, and then two or three months later, ‘Oh they didn’t deliver on these very high expectations that we’ve all put out there,’” Pincus said in a conversation with reporters at the Reuters Media Summit.

He noted that Zynga, whose games include FarmVille and Mafia Wars, has been profitable for eight quarters and sees no reason to raise capital in a public stock offering anytime soon.

Pincus did sketch a rosy picture for the broader social games and virtual goods business.

“I believe the addressable market for social gaming will be the whole web and the mobile web.”

“I think that eventually more than half of the population of people who are socially connected with participate in social games.”

Until recently, Zynga’s games were only available on social networks and on Apple’s iPhone. But the company launched a standalone web site for its FarmVille game last week and Pincus said that more than 3.5 million people are now playing the game by going directly to the site.

The worldwide market for virtual goods, which are key components in social games, could surpass $15 billion in the next three to five years, he said. That would be a 4x jump from the roughly $4 billion size that he reckoned is the market’s current size.

“It’s going to be one of the biggest revenue growth opportunities on the Internet.”

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