Farmville privacy leak leads to Zynga fighting a lawsuit

Well, everyone demands a catchy headline so don’t complain!

Lots of people play Farmville, constantly bombarding their friends and enemies with a trail of Farmville and Mafia Wars updates such as I just found a pink cow that can ride tricycles!and My pal here is gonna kill your pal there”, problem?. Apparently, they all value their privacy a lot. Turns out that the top ten Facebook apps, six of them from Zynga, transmit referral URLs to third parties. These referral URLs are tiny parts of the URLs that tell the landing page where the link was clicked. Rapleaf (ironically, since it is also involved as one of the third parties) has a pretty good and detailed blog post about this here.

tom-jefferson-farmville

So, some Facebook user caught wind of this and slapped a class action lawsuit on Zynga:-

This appears to be another example of an online company failing the American public with empty promises to respect individual privacy rights. Companies large and small need to learn to follow through on their privacy promises or risk having consumers decide that it is simply not worth it to use their services,” added Kassra Nassiri of Nassiri & Jung LLP, co-lead attorney for the lawsuit.

So, who did not see this one coming?

(Hilariously apt image credit: Joystiq)

Zynga Now Has 1,000 Employees and $835 Million In Annual Revenue

Zynga, the company behind popular Facebook games like FarmVille and MafiaWars, is experiencing an amazing growth. Within 1 year, the number of employees has jumped from 375 to 1,000, offices have been established in India, revenue has been growing steadily and is estimated to be $835 Million for 2010, and above all, customers and investors are both more happy than they have been with probably any other start-up.

The games Zynga offers may sound silly and goofy to some, but they are played by 211 Million active users each month. Zynga makes money by letting people buy virtual in-game products using real money  and even though the number of people who engage in these transactions are very small, it adds up to several hundred million dollars each year. People believe Zynga is the hottest digital property coming out of Silicon valley since Facebook and Twitter.

This, however, is just the beginning! Or at least that is what Zynga’s founder Mark Pincus thinkgs. Mr. Pincus who has been involved in at least 3 different start-ups before Zynga, wants to make Zynga for social apps what Google is to search; and given the current track record, nobody can say he is over expecting. It is estimated that between 20% to 30% of Facebook users come to the platform for playing games. This strong dependency of Facebook and Zynga on each other has also brewed some major differences in the recent past, but both companies claim that all that is now behind them and the relationship between the two social media giants is stronger than ever.

Some analysts also believe that Zynga is planning to go public very soon and the company is currently valued at around $5 Billion. An interesting thing to note is that despite Google’s fierce competition with Facebook in social media properties, Google has invested heavily in Zynga along with Softbank. On the other hand, Zynga has also partnered with Apple to offer its games on the iPhone. This intricate web of collaboration makes all the internet giants more dependent on each other than they would probably like to admit.

FarmVille App Now Available for Free on iPhone/iPod Touch

At the event, Zynga had demoed the Farmville app for the and iPod Touch with the availability schedule for later this month. If you have been a Farmville fan on , you can now also play the same game on your iPhone or iPod Touch too.

Farmville iPhone App

Zynga has officially released the Farmville app for iPhone and iPod Touch for free. The app has a similar experience to what you get on Facebook, however, to play the game you will have to sign in using your Facebook account.

Farmville iPhone Game Play

Farmville has been a crazy success for Zynga, taking the online social gaming company to a $5 billion valuation, and now with the availability of the app on or earlier devices will bring in more success and revenue their way.

You can download the Farmville application for free for your iPhone or iPod Touch by clicking on this iTunes link.

WWDC 2010: Steve Jobs Keynote Highlights

So missed the Steve Jobs keynote at the WWDC 2010? Here are the main highlights of the Steve Jobs keynote.

iPhone 4

First and foremost, Jobs announced the new iPhone 4. The new iPhone 4 is definitely the smartphone to beat right now. The Retina Display, the stainless steel body, surely make the iPhone 4 a must have device. Here are the specifications and features of the iPhone 4, if you missed it earlier.

iBooks For The iPhone With New Features

The iBook application has now been released for the iPhone as well. Along with this, many new features have been added to the application as well. The application now has the ability to view and read PDF files. If a user purchases and downloads a book from the iBookstore, he can download the same book again on his other iBooks compatible iDevices for free.

Netflix, Guitar Hero And Farmville Applications For The iDevices

The long awaited Netflix application has been officially announced for the iPhone. The application uses adaptive video playback, and features seamless switching between Wi-Fi and 3G networks. The application will be launched sometime in summer, this year for free.

Netflix

Zynga also announced the Farmville application for the iPhone. The application features push notifications. The application has not been made in flash though. Sadly, the Farmville application was not announced for the iPad. Activision also released Guitar Hero for the iPhone and the iPad. The game is available effective immediately at the App Store for $2.99.

iMovies For The iPhone

The new iPhone 4G is capable of recording HD (720p) videos at 30fps. Thanks to the A4 chip inside, the phone is capable of editing these videos on the fly as well. To take editing videos on your phone to the next level, Apple has made iMovies specifically for the iPhone. The demo of the application sure looked impressive with super-smooth animations. iMovies is definitely the best video editing application ever available for a mobile platform. The application is available at the App Store for $4.99.

iOS 4

iOS4

Apple has renamed the iPhone OS4 to iOS4 now. The new iOS4 has more than 100 new features, and contains more than 1500 developer APIs. The iOS4 features a unified inbox, multitasking, Folders, enhanced camera application etcetera. The Golden master candidate of the iOS4 will be given to the developers today, and the final version will be out soon.

iAd

Steve Jobs also gave a demo of the iAd platform at the WWDC today. He said that he expects iAd to capture 48% of the mobile ad market in the U.S in terms of ad dollars. The iAd platform is targeted at developers for making money. The iAd platform already has support from some big companies like Nissan, AT&T, GE, Disney, Sears etcetera.

Image Source: Gdgt

Yahoo Partners With Zynga To Bring FarmVille and More to Yahoo

Looks like Yahoo is on a deal signing spree these days, and they have just snapped another deal with Zynga, the creators of the popular Farmville game for .

Zynga Yahoo Partnership

Zynga who is rumored to be worth $5 billion and also in plans to launch Zynga Live, which is their own social gaming platform will now be available on Yahoo properties, like Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Games, Yahoo Messenger and others.

Yahoo users can also share their gaming updates across multiple social sites while playing their favorite game. Hilary Schneider, executive VP of Yahoo said that:

Zynga will bring top notch social game experiences to Yahoo!, including through our open platforms such as Yahoo! Application Platform and Yahoo! Updates. Yahoo! will also continue to work with other partners, developers and publishers to bring compelling innovations and experiences from across the web to our users.

On the other hand Mark Pincus, founder and CEO of Zynga had this to add:

With over 35 million unique users playing our games every single day, social games are fast becoming a leading source of entertainment worldwide surpassing most television shows,

Yahoo is no doubt one of the most famous websites in the world and a social gaming partnership with Zynga will definitely be fruitful for both Yahoo and Zynga.

 

(via TechCrunch)

Zynga May Break Away From Facebook, Launch Zynga Live

Let’s face it, with 246 Million Monthly Active Users, Zynga is the largest developer and partner Facebook has. But the relationship between them is getting quite sour due to Facebook’s new restrictions. Recently, Facebook announced that Facebook Credits will be the sole mode of payment that can be used by developers and Facebook will take a 30% cut of it.

Now some developers don’t mind that but with the size of revenue Zynga has, it will have to pay tens of millions of dollars to Facebook each year in fees. Zynga, of course, doesn’t like that and discussions with Facebook over this have not gone pretty well. As a result, Zynga may be planning to launch an independent social gaming network called Zynga Live that will host all Zynga games and let users interact with each other. Ideally, users should still be able to log-in using their Facebook or Twitter accounts and share their scores on Facebook using the Open Graph. However, no details have emerged as of yet on the structure of Zynga Live.

Another demand by Facebook that didn’t help was of agreeing to make Zynga games exclusive to the Facebook platform. There is no confirm news of when this might happen but once it does, Facebook’s PR team will have a field day. After all the privacy issues and recently negative reputation, severing ties with its largest partner is the last thing Facebook needs right now. Facebook will also have a busy day explaining things to its investors, few of whom are also stake holders at Zynga.

Zynga Could Be Worth $5 Billion Now

ZyngaPeople often think what 237 Million monthly active users mean for the popular social gaming company Zynga. Well, according to some equity analysts, the traffic, monthly revenue and some other metrics mean Zynga is worth around $5 Billion right now. The report was recently released by analysts at SecondaryShares.com and   claims that each Zynga share would fetch $15 if it were to go IPO right now.

Currently, Zynga is a privately-held company and the shares are traded by accredited investors at places like the SecondaryMarket at $9 per share. Analysts think that with projected $500 Million revenue for the current year and cross-marketing opportunities Zynga has, the revenues might go as up as $1.6 Billion in next few years. These assumptions are based on an estimated $2.25 revenue per Monthly Active User. If Zynga continues at the projected growth rate, it may very well be worth up to $15 Billion by 2015.

The assumptions are also , quite heavily. based on the numbers that Chinese social gaming company Tencent brings in. It is also interesting to note that Zynga was the #2 merchant for PayPal in 2009 and owns 6 of the top 7 games on Facebook. However, with Facebook as well as Farmville about to reach the peak of their popularity soon, it would be quite difficult for Zynga to maintain the same growth rate in coming years. Still, Zynga is one of the best examples of how something as casual as social games can turn into a very serious business.

The complete report can be downloaded here.

Zynga Comes To India

If you have used Facebook even once in past six months, you must have heard about games like Farmville and Fishville. The company behind these games, Zynga, has taken the world’s most popular social network by storm with over 200 Million monthly active users. Now, it is coming to India by opening an office in Banglore. This will be company’s first office outside of the US and it plans to hire around 100 people by the end of the year for this new location.

Currently Zynga has offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Baltimore with over 800 employees. Zynga has raised around $220 Million in funding so far and is believed to be the #1 social game developer in the world. Zynga believed India has 81 Million internet users and will be the 3rd largest internet market by 2013, following US and China. Zynga is following a popular trend of tech companies opening offices in India to utilize the relatively economical conditions and drive down costs.

All the games offered by Zynga are free to play. The company, instead, makes money by selling virtual goods and is expected to generate around $400 Million in revenue for 2010. Here are some of the job listings related to Banglore that have already appeared on Zynga website:

1. Software Engineer (Flash)

2. Web Developer – PHP

3. Product Manager

Click here to read the detail requirements and apply for these positions.