As we’ve noted before, 2011 has been a great year for Internet companies seeking to go public. Today, Zynga said it hoped to price its shares at $8 to $10 per share during its initial public offering later this month. Depending on whose math you trust, that means the company will try to raise about $1 billion and the debut could value the company at $7 billion. (Some news outlets are putting that number as high as $9 billion.)
What is Zynga you ask? They’re the makers of social games like Farmville and Cityville.
In its offering, Zynga appear to be moving cautiously amid the market turmoil and tough environment for I.P.O.’s.
Notably, Zynga, which is set to sell 100 million shares, or 14.3 percent of its total, is offering a bigger stake than many Internet companies that have gone public this year. Several start-ups, like Groupon and LinkedIn, have sold less than 10 percent of total shares in their I.P.O.’s. That strategy of constrained supply has allowed many to soar on their first day of trading, but it has also increased volatility.
The valuation of $7 billion is also softer than many analysts had predicted earlier this year, reflecting the tempered expectations for I.P.O.’s. A number of Internet and technology companies that have gone public this year have tumbled below their offering prices. Groupon, the popular deals site, has lost about $4 billion in market capitalization since its early November debut.
The big picture here is that Zynga is a rare instance of success in the social media landscape. That is to say, it’s actually making money. The Los Angeles Times reports that last year, the company made a $90.6 million profit and raked in $597.5 million in revenue.
USA Today reports on what the Zynga IPO will say about the industry:
The IPO fortunes of Zynga are a crucial litmus test for the tech IPO market. Despite the success of LinkedIn, IPOs for Groupon and Pandora have sputtered. Groupon closed its first day of trading in early November at a $16.5 billion valuation but has lost nearly 40% since and is now valued at about $10 billion.
Zynga’s performance will also weigh on the outlook for Facebook, which is expected to go public in the first half. As the largest gaming company on Facebook, Zynga is a major contributor to Facebook’s revenue. Zynga purchases advertising on the site and shares a portion of virtual goods purchases with the social network.