Zynga’s Biggest Opportunity May Be Legalized Gambling

Jan 24, 2012, 9:57 am EST
Zynga’s Biggest Opportunity May Be Legalized Gambling

Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) is the clear leader in the fast-growing social gaming business. In the first nine months of 2011, the company generated a whopping $828.9 million in revenues. Much of this came from players who are willing to pay for digital items like virtual picks, tractors and energy pills.

But Zynga appears to be preparing for another business model — online gambling (according to a report in All Things D). No doubt, the company knows how to develop addicting games. What’s more, it already has the most popular casino site on the web, Zynga Poker. It draws about 7 million users per day. Zynga also has plans to launch bingo on Facebook as well.

But isn’t online gambling illegal in most states? Yes. Yet the Justice Department gave a broad interpretation to the Wire Act. The agency said that it only forbids betting on sports. Read 

Finally, Some IPOs for 2012!

Jan 23, 2012, 12:59 pm EST
Finally, Some IPOs for 2012!

The IPO market has gotten off to a sluggish start this year. Last week, we saw the year’s first public offering — and it was a bit of a dud. Renewable Energy Group (NASDAQ:REGI), a biodiesel producer, priced its shares at $10, which was below the $13-to-$15 range. So far today, the shares are trading at $9.50.

Hopefully, the upcoming week will offer better results for investors. On deck are three companies that plan to launch an IPO: Guidewire Software

Guidewire has developed a cloud-based system that helps manage the transactions of property and casualty insurers. It covers a broad range of functions, such as billing, underwriting and claims. Read 

Social IPOs: The Haves and Have-Nots

Jan 23, 2012, 11:40 am EST
Social IPOs: The Haves and Have-Nots

As evidenced by the continuous surge in Facebook, the web is becoming much more social. And that certainly has helped a variety of early-stage companies, such as Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA). Founded in October 2007, it is now the largest player in social games — and has a market value larger than Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA).

Another standout in the social space is Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN). Essentially, it allows for group buying at deep discounts. The company got its start in November 2008 and already is more valuable than Zynga.

Unlike the dot-com boom in the 1990s, the social revolution has seen several companies achieve astounding levels of monetization. Just take a look at this chart, which shows the revenue gains (listed in millions): Read 

The Reality Distortion Field Is Throbbing

Jan 23, 2012, 10:57 am EST
The Reality Distortion Field Is Throbbing

The phrase “reality distortion field” (RDF) comes from Star Trek, but it also turns out to aptly describe what former Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) chief Steve Jobs was able to do when communicating with his engineers: He had an uncanny ability to get them to believe they could do the impossible.

The RDF has, in fact, become a hallmark of Silicon Valley. And for the most part, it has been a great driver of break-out companies such as Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) and Facebook.

Yet it can get out of control, as noted in a recent piece in The New York Times. With huge amounts of venture capital sloshing around, it seems that just about any zany idea can get millions in funding. This is especially the case if the startup is in the way-cool social-networking space. Read 

Web Venture Deals Get Bubbly

Jan 20, 2012, 1:17 pm EST

Even though the IPO market was choppy last year — especially in light of the European debt crisis — we still saw some mega-deals in the tech space. They included operators like Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN), Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA), LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD), Pandora (NYSE:P) and Zillow (NASDAQ:Z).

Seeing opportunity, venture capitalists also got aggressive with their dealmaking. According to the MoneyTree Report — which is based on the analysis of PricewaterhouseCoopers, the National Venture Capital Association and Thomson Reuters — funding reached $28.4 billion across 3,673 deals last year. This represented a sizzling 22% increase in dollar volume over 2010.

If you drill down on the numbers, you’ll see that Internet companies saw lots of interest. The total investment amount came to $6.9 billion, up 24%. Keep in mind that it was the most active period since the dot-com boom. Read 

Exclusive: Taulli Talks With Gigya CEO Salyer

Jan 20, 2012, 12:22 pm EST
Exclusive: Taulli Talks With Gigya CEO Salyer

Patrick Salyer is the CEO of Gigya, which develops technologies to help companies manage their marketing campaigns across platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD). It reaches more than 700 million users, and clients include Pepsi (NYSE:PEP), Verizon (NYSE:VZ), Sprint (NYSE:S) and Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO).

IPO Playbook recently had a chance to interview Salyer. Here are some of his thoughts on social media and trends for 2012: How did you come up with the idea for the company?

Gigya was founded in 2006 in Tel Aviv by a group of Israeli technologists who saw social media not only as the “next big thing” but as a permanent shift in how people interact on the Web. We began as a company that connected websites to social networks, allowing social-network users (at the time, mostly MySpace users) to share embeddable pieces of content in their social profiles. Read 

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