Zynga COO John Schappert On Going Public, And What’s Coming Next

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This Is Not The Net You Thought You Knew

Zynga is still in its quiet period for another 24 days after going public yesterday, so chief operating officer John Schappert wouldn’t answer my more specific questions about the company’s future plans when I talked to him last night.

After opening up at an aggressively priced $10 per share, the company had a slight pop before closing down 5% yesterday. But as Schappert emphasizes to me in the interview below, ZNGA is here for the long-term and its investors should be thinking that way, too.

He adds some color to the roadshow video the company has been showing investors over the last couple weeks, discussing the company’s expansion plans across social and mobile platforms, and internationally.

TechCrunch: Now you’re public — congrats. What’s changed now? How do you plan on spending the new money?

John Schappert: Like we talked about on the roadshow, we have a larger bank account to invest in future of gaming, notably social gaming, which we think is where play is headed.

When we think of growth, there are a few different areas. We’re investing in existing games to drive bookings [revenue-generating events like the purchase of a virtual good]. We’re also working to create new franchises and genres, like Castleville, which we recently launched on Facebook.

That also means more international expansion. We’ve just started localizing a year ago with CityVille.

TechCrunch: Can you tell me more about your specific approach to localizing by language, country or region?

John Schappert: I can’t go down to country. But CityVille launched a year ago, and it was our first game that was localized into five languages at launch.

Now, we launch in a dozen languages, and we continue to add more. We’ve built it into the engine.

Related to that, we’re making progress with localizing payments. Two months ago, if you were in Europe and purchasing virtual goods in games, you were still buying in US dollars. Now you can buy in the euro and the pound.

International is an area we’re going to continue to invest in.

TechCrunch: What about your plans for other platforms — mobile, Google Plus? You’re now at 13 million mobile daily actives?

John Schappert: We’ve invested heavily. We’ve already talked about growing mobile by ten times to more than 11 million DAUs.

It’s still early on Google Plus, we still have hopes that Google will continue to invest there. Hopefully it’ll turn into a nice platform.

We’re also on Tencent [a leading web copmany] in China. And they’re like Google. They’re very dedicated to it.

They’re both big players with lots of audience, who we’ve built great social games for.

TechCrunch: Can you tell me any more about how Tencent is going — what are the early results, since it launched a few months ago?

John Schappert: I can’t give much detail on Tencent. It’s still very early for us. We’ve spent a lot of time on localizing localize. even more with content. very early going for us.

But we’re very proud about mobile. If you look at AppData, and at our Facebook DAU, and compare our mobile stats to our closest competitor on Facebook, you’ll see that we compare quite favorably. We have new game engines on mobile coming out now for CityVille Hometown, FarmVille Express, Words With Friends….

I would say when we look at mobile, we don’t separate by saying they’re mobile not social. We create social games on every device, so you can play anywhere and everywhere.

TechCrunch: How do you expect ad revenue to grow versus virtual goods, which is currently the core of your business?

John Schappert: We can’t provide any forward projections, but in the roadshow we talked about ads, how they’ve grown 160% — very fast. We do see it as a nice area of opportunity. engagement… all our s-1 stuff. We’re reaching 227 million monthly active users. Big brands love that. We’re partnered with Dreamworks for Kung Fu Panda, and lots of others.

We offer unique ways to integrate advertisers into games. Best Buy in Cityville was interacted with 110 million times.

TechCrunch: How do you feel about Google’s efforts with Android, lately? It’s not getting the same results for developers as iOS, even though it is getting bought like crazy.

John Schappert: Google is continuing to improve marketplace, continuing to invest and further develop it. There are also a lot of new devices, and more coming this holiday season with Kindle Fires and iPads and other tablets and phones showing up under Christmas trees.

The activation on all of this is pretty spectacular. I can’t break out how Words With Friends is doing on the Kindle but it’s a top mobile game. I mean, people play it even when they shouldn’t on airplanes….

TechCrunch: What message do you have to investors after seeing how they reacted to your initial offering today?

John Schappert: Our message to investors one day in is the same as on the road. We look at this for the long-term, we’re not making short-term decisions. It’s not single day or single hour. We’re looking at the long-term of play, the long-term of Zynga and connecting the world through games, and that’s hopefully what people are investing in — the future of social gaming and play.

TechCrunch: How should people expect you to go about acquisitions and hiring now that you have all this new money in the bank? Are you looking at bigger companies to buy, for example?

John Schappert: People who are thinking about working at Zynga should go to our web site and apply. With respect to M&A, it remains the same — we’re actively looking for great teams, studios, IP…. when we find those, it’s a great add to our company. Conduit Labs built Adventure World, CastleVille is from Bonfire.

In terms of larger acquisitions? We’re looking at a lot of different companies of all different sizes, and we’ll see what makes sense.

TechCrunch: Any parting thoughts about what people should understand about Zynga today?

John Schappert: A lot of people watch things and don’t watch follow-up. But what we’re most proud of is follow-up. Our users stay engaged — we have five out of the five top games on Facebook today, and some of the titles are not new — and that’s something very few people can say.

[Schappert avatar via Zynga.]