Google Pumps $100M into Zynga for Google Games

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-07-12

Just days after supposition that Google could get into gaming, TechCrunch reported that Google has pumped at least $100 million into online gaming power Zynga, whose Farmville and Mafia Wars titles captivate millions of Facebook users.

In a strategic deal, Zynga would serve as the centerpiece for Google Games when it launches later this year, the top tech blog said.  

There is no hard evidence of this launch and Google declined to comment for eWEEK.

However, TechCrunch pointed to this job post on Google for a product management leader for Google Games. The description of the position magnifies Google's intentions for online gaming:

"The Product Management Leader, Games will be a flexible, results-oriented, and experienced senior leader who will be responsible for developing Google's games commerce product strategy and partnering to build and manage the business with a cross-functional team."

People are fanatical about using Zynga's games on Facebook, which explains the massive funding in the startup.

TechCrunch said Zynga has banked nearly $500 million in venture capital funding, including $180 million from Digital Sky Technologies, Tiger Global, Institutional Venture Partners and Andreessen Horowitz.

The total sum also includes an unconfirmed $150 million from Softbank Capital, funding to which TechCrunch argues Google contributed.

One could argue Zynga's games are responsible for a shift in how people use Facebook; in the last two years, people have evolved from simply sharing information and socializing on the social network, to playing games with friends online for hours at a time.

That stickiness keeps people coming back and seeing more social ads, which is a major reason so many companies have tried to buy Zynga, including Facebook.

Google's gaming designs, while slowly crystallizing, aren't coming as a shock to anyone who understands the popularity of games played on the Web, which is where Google counts its eyeballs and ad dollars.

HitWise Intelligence analyst Heather Hopkins, who predicted Google would dip into online travel before Google bid to buy ITA Software last month, said July 7:

"It may have taken four years since our initial analysis for the acquisition but what does clickstream data tell us about Google's next potential foray? Games. After Travel, the next biggest downstream industry from is Games and Google does not yet have a presence in that industry. Stay tuned..."

From TechCrunch's scoop and the Games position post, it seems that prognostication will be borne out.

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