Zynga CEO Mark Pincus took the stage today at D10, and of course because Facebook is all people can talk about after its IPO two weeks ago, he got asked and asked and asked again about Zynga’s “attachment to Facebook.”
“Zynga is very tied to Facebook,” Kara Swisher brought up immediately, describing the two stocks as “tethered together.” Indeed, Zynga makes up 15% of Facebook’s revenue, and Facebook makes up most of Zynga’s.
“They’re really important not just to us.” Pincus said, “Facebook is providing a new part of [the ecosystem's] stack, there is now a social stack and an app stack.” Pincus went on to describe the social graph as “magical” but expressed concern at Facebook’s pace of innovation on mobile, “On the web they’ve been really important with regards to distribution.”
Pincus called out for more mobile discovery options, and referred to Android and iOS as platforms that held just as much importance for the future of Zynga. “Discovery and the return path to apps still needs innovation on mobile,” he emphasized.
In order to address the lack of a unified place to discover apps of mobile, Pincus brought up that Zynga had aspirations to become this platform, aiding third parties in the distribution of social games, an ambition that Swisher compared to that of Xbox Live. But it’s sort of tough to become a platform while you’re still addicted to another.
Because Pincus didn’t clearly address how its reliance on Facebook for its primary revenue was being dealt with strategically inside Zynga, The Verge’s Josh Topolsky asked the CEO again about Facebook during Q&A, “How are you going to get detached from Facebook?” Topolsky said, “What is your actual strategy for being a business on your own?”
“We’ve never thought in terms of attachment or detachment,” Pincus responded, “We have a 90 to 10m rule, which means that if a platform can bring us 10m DAUs in 90 days then we invest at scale. Facebook met that rule and Android and iOS have the potential, he said.
“I think of it like the evolution of TV.” Pincus explained. “People wanted to watch TV but our desire to watch TV wasn’t created by the networks, it was a relationship between us and content. People have a latent interest in playing independent of the platform and we are willing go anywhere.”