Zynga’s tanking stock price is everyone else’s gain.
Kixeye, the iconoclastic, midcore Facebook gaming company, just hired away the general manager of CityVille, Alan Patmore, to be its vice president of product. It’s a score for the company at a time when the entire social gaming industry is in flux.
With Zynga’s market capitalization now down to $2.4 billion from the more than $14 billion it was privately valued at before its IPO, the social gaming company is now a ripe target for poachers across the entire industry. For months, I’ve been hearing stories of how literally easy it is for other gaming companies to line up hours of interviews with frustrated product managers and engineers near Zynga’s Potrero Hill headquarters.
Kixeye’s model and demographic is different from Zynga’s, however. They target midcore gamers — usually men — who are likely to pay more in games. While the average social game might make 4 cents per day per user, Kixeye makes about 20 times that on a per-user basis. The company is on track to make more than $100 million in revenue this year. That success has fueled its really irreverent recruiting campaigns, including this video below. Plus, there are ads of unicorns shooting lasers out of their heads on the local BART transport system in San Francisco.
Kixeye’s higher-spending demographic should in theory make the company’s model more profitable, although I don’t have visibility into that. In comparison, Zynga lost $22.8 million in the last quarter, mostly because of stock-based compensation.
Patmore oversaw some of Zynga’s biggest hits including CityVille and Mafia Wars. Before that, he was vice president of product development at Double Fine Productions, where helped develop Stacking, Iron Brigade, and Costume Quest. He was also president and CEO of Surreal Software, which he co-founded and later sold to Midway in 2004.
Founded in 2007, KIXEYE (formerly Casual Collective) is an independent game developer that makes games for gamers by gamers. Responsible for popular titles like Desktop Defender, Backyard Monsters, Battle Pirates and War Commander. KIXEYE is the first to deliver proper game play experiences on social networks. The company is based in San Francisco and backed by Trinity Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners.