Charlie Rose Talks to Zynga CEO Mark Pincusby
How does Zynga.com fit into your growth strategy?
Our goal is to connect a billion people around the world through play. Where zynga.com fits into that is we really want to guarantee that you always have someone interesting to play with. You can go look at zynga.com at any point in the day and we tell you how many people are connected right now. We have somewhere in the range of 2 million people—at the peak of the day—all playing on our network. And now you can go in to play CityVille, and, say, you want to start a new airport. What you’ll be able to do—it launched yesterday on zynga.com—is start your airport and then watch over the next five or 10 minutes as friends and a community of people who are online help you build it. So we want to continue to bring the friction on social down and make it easier and easier for you to have that experience.
The second part of what we’re doing is expanding the games that are connected to our network so the variety and depth of games you can play [will] multiply by working with third-party game developers, giving them access to our audience and our audience to them.
Will this draw a line between playing games on Facebook and playing games on zynga.com?
Here’s what’s interesting about these platforms. No. 1, when you’re playing games on zynga.com, you are also playing games on Facebook. This is doubling down on our partnership with Facebook. Go to zynga.com and you have one simple button you push to connect your Facebook identification and logon to Zynga the website, as an FB-connected website. And then you access the same games you played with us and your same friends and your profile and identity. When you purchase with us, you’ll still be using Facebook payments, and Facebook will get the same revenue. It’s a win for us either way. And in terms of how many people are going to use one vs. the other, I don’t know yet.
Was there any pushback from Facebook when you made this decision?
Oh, no. This has been envisioned in our relationship with Facebook since the beginning. There was no surprise, and we’ve collaborated on it.
How symbiotic is this relationship between Zynga and Facebook, between you and Mark Zuckerberg?
It’s a highly positive relationship. The companies work together at all levels on a weekly basis. I think Facebook [realized] a couple of years ago that social gaming was a core service offering, a part of their social networking experience. And they decided to continue to invest in that and even created their own division around it. And we’ve concentrated and invested and doubled-down on Facebook because we thought they were doing more to innovate and enable a great platform for games than anybody else. Mark and I have had a great working relationship. I’m an original investor in Facebook, as I think you know.
I do know that. Congratulations.
And Mark and I have gotten together for dinner every couple of months for the last couple of years. We talk about where things are going. The reason there’s great alignment is we both want to build important long-term services for people.
Eric Schmidt described you as a “ferocious negotiator.” When talk turns to revenue percentages, it must be interesting dialogue.
I don’t think I’m any great, shrewd negotiator. I’m focused on the long-term path for our company—that we win. And I won’t compromise on that path. I’m unmovable on the points that matter.
How important will mobile be to your future growth?
It’s really important. We’re seeing mobile really growing the market for social games and play. We’re seeing just incredible rates of downloads and installs and unique player growth. I think the concept of in-app purchase is something that people understand, and I think that in-app purchase is helping people kind of culturally get comfortable with the idea of buying virtual goods.
You’ve said that play is the new TV. What do you mean by that?
For the last five or six decades, TV has been the one medium that’s connected the world, that no matter where you lived, no matter what your economic status was, you found a way to get a TV and to watch. In the couple of decades, the smartphone has the chance to be that new medium, and I think that games and play are the No. 1 thing that people are going to do.