Google has quietly (secretly, one might say) invested somewhere between $100 million and $200 million in social gaming behemoth Zynga, we’ve confirmed from multiple sources. The company has raised somewhere around half a billion dollars in venture capital in the last year alone, including $150 million from Softbank Capital last month and $180 million late last year from Digital Sky Technologies, Tiger Global, Institutional Venture Partners and Andreessen Horowitz. The Softbank announcement was never officially confirmed by the company, however, and the Google investment was likely part of that deal as well.
The investment part of the deal closed a month ago or so. A larger strategic partnership is still in process.
The investment was made by Google itself, not Google Ventures, say our sources, and it’s a highly strategic deal. Zynga will be the cornerstone of a new Google Games to launch later this year, say multiple sources. Not only will Zynga’s games give Google Games a solid base of social games to build on, but it will also give Google the beginning of a true social graph as users log into Google to play the games. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see PayPal being replaced with Google Checkout as the primary payment option. Zynga is supposedly PayPal’s biggest single customer, and Google is always looking for ways to make Google Checkout relevant.
And there’s more. These same sources are saying that Zynga’s revenues for the first half of 2010 will be a stunning $350 million, half of which is operating profit. Zynga is projecting at least $1.0 billion in revenue in 2011, say our sources. This blows previous estimates out of the water.
Zynga continues to work on high level strategic business development deals. The reason these deals are so attractive to companies like Yahoo and now Google is this – Zynga allows them to rebuild the massive social graph, currently controlled by Facebook. For whatever reason people love to play these games and get passionately addicted to them, coming back day after day. That’s helped Facebook become what it is today. Google, Yahoo and others want some of that magic to rub off on them, too.
We’ve reached out to both Google and Zynga for comment. Neither have responded.
There will be lots more news on Google Games in the near future, we’re guessing. Here’s a job opening for a Product Lead for Google Games, for example:
Product Management Leader, Games – Mountain View
This position is based in Mountain View, CA.
The area: Product Management
One of the many reasons Google consistently brings innovative, world-changing products to market is because of the collaborative work we do in Product Management. With eyes focused squarely on the future, our team works closely with creative and prolific engineers to help design and develop technologies that improve access to the world’s information. We’re responsible for guiding products throughout the execution cycle, focusing specifically on analyzing, positioning, packaging, promoting and tailoring our solutions to all the markets where Google does business.
The role: Product Management Leader, Games
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. You will have visionary product insight, combined with experience in the online content business, significant technical expertise and extensive leadership and business skills. The Product Management Leader, Games combines a great instinct for developing compelling products with a strong focus on users and technical aptitude to work with a world class engineering team and the business sense to drive product goals and strategies.
Identify market opportunities and define product vision and strategy.
Develop and launch new products and enhance existing products.
Lead and mentor a team of Product Managers.
Engage closely with the engineering team to help determine the best technical implementation methods as well as a reasonable execution schedule.
Establish partnerships as necessary to drive the growth of Google’s products.
Technical degree or equivalent experience. Masters or PhD preferred.
Experience building an online gaming business both on the web and on mobile devices. Deep understanding of the game business and how to create hits.
Proven success in driving product strategy and product design for a successful game.
Solid product management experience with a track record of creating innovative and winning Internet or software solutions.
Significant people and organizational management skills. A natural leader and mentor.
Demonstrated ability to gather user requirements and convert them into a winning product vision. Strong quantitative and analytical abilities.
Strong communication skills with the ability to evangelize the merits of Google’s products internally and externally.