If you’re wondering why Zynga issued $875 million in convertible notes at the end of 2020, CEO Frank Gibeau said the company was fundraising to build up a “war chest” for more acquisitions.
“As you know, we’ve been a consolidator inside of this business for a while, and we’re going to continue to be on offense [looking for] great companies, great cultures, great teams that we can bring into Zynga,” Gibeau told me.
In the last year alone, Zynga acquired two game studios based in Istanbul — Peak Games for $1.8 billion and Rollic for $180 million (in the latter case, it only acquired 80% of the company initially).
“There are now four or five examples of us having done this successfully,” Gibeau said. “When we started, nobody was picking up our phone calls. Now when we call, we are a bit of a destination of choice for a lot of developers out there.”
Gibeau and I were speaking about Zynga’s fourth quarter earnings, in which the company reported all-time high revenue of $616 million and a net loss of $53 million (though another measure of profitability, adjusted EBITDA, was actually positive at $90 million). Daily active users were up 77% year over year, to 36 million, while monthly active users were up 103%, to 134 million.
Looking ahead, Zynga is forecasting revenue of $2.6 billion (a 32% year-over-year increase) and adjusted EBITDA of $450 million for 2021. And while another acquisition could significantly grow the business, Gibeau noted that the company’s forecasts have “no acquisitions assumed,” adding, “We’re in a great position, because we would prefer to do acquisitions in 2021, but we don’t have to do any deals.”
There are new games lined up for 2021, including Puzzle Combat, Farmville 3 and a Star Wars title. The company also plans to continue developing hypercasual games, to develop more cross-platform games, to expand internationally and to continue building out its ad network — in fact, he suggested that Apple’s upcoming privacy changes could be good for Zynga.
“A lot of traditional marketing services are not going to be able to survive very well,” he said. “Because we’re a first-party data company — all the data we generate is coming to our services from our games — and because we’re at scale … IDFA is an opportunity for our company.”