Zynga: my 1 year anniversary

A little over a year ago, a friend suggested I check out a start up company called Zynga because they were looking for people with traditional game experience.

After meeting some of the smartest people I know, I signed up for the adventure.

Today marks my 1 year anniversary at Zynga and it’s fun to take  a moment and look back.

When I started at Zynga, they had just grown from 50 people to 200 in a matter of months. My first assignment was to work with the Guild of Heroes team. After an early test release of the game, I moved on to help with Mafia Wars, Street Racing and Vampires. Those teams significantly grew their daily unique player count dramatically during that quarter. From there, I started a new team and we created FarmVille.

(I’m now VP of Product Development at Zynga, helping new and existing product teams by sharing my experience at creating FarmVille and my background in creating hit games in the traditional game business.)

Personally, I’ve seen some amazing things while working at Zynga.  In the traditional game business, the games I developed sold 16.5mm copies at retail over 15 years.  In 1 year in social games at Zynga, over 60 million people have played one of the games I’ve created (FarmVille). Quite a change.

It’s also the reason I tell people “run, don’t walk” to check out the open positions at Zynga. The place is ripe with opportunities for ambitious, smart and high energy people interested in being part of the birth of a new segment of the gaming industry.

Beyond, all the fun I’ve had working with folks at Zynga, it’s amazing to see how the social games industry has grown, both in terms of the quality of the games created but also maturity as a business. In the last 9 months, the industry has seen the launch of over a dozen games which each now have over a million people playing a day. Zynga alone has launched 4 of them in the last 6 months. FarmVille alone delivered an industry wide impact and has definitively proven that social games can go mainstream.

John Doerr came by Zynga a few weeks ago for a lunch meeting. During that meeting, he shared how Zynga reminded him of the start of other now great companies he’s seen during his time. He also suggested that we cherish the experience while we’re in the middle of it.

After 1 year at Zynga, I thought it might be time to spend a minute doing just that. There’s more stories and experience to share, but I’ll save them for another time.

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3 Responses to Zynga: my 1 year anniversary

  1. Vladimir Osipov November 12, 2009 at 9:51 am #

    Congrats, Mark!
    My 1st year is in 5 months 🙂

  2. Hawkwind November 12, 2009 at 10:20 am #

    Feels good to know you left your mark does’t it? Good Job!

  3. Di Meade November 12, 2009 at 10:22 am #

    Hi Mark, I farm with you but didn’t realise you were directly involved. We would love to see Farmville available on “Wii” – we being my husband and my son- and you could still do the same basic idea with games bolted on so that you could win other awards, like the cow racing game they have on Wii Play, you could win items for your farm an gifts to give to friends and also earn XP that way. It does get a little flustrating when you get to a higher level and you seem to stay there for ever and after easy rewards for 3 trees and 25 friends the hoops to jump through become emormous, 100 trees, 100 friends etc. I’ve started another farm and i’m really enjoying the early levels and it is getting better – but still crashing lots. If you need any product testers let me know cause we’re doing it anyway!!!

    Regards Di Meade in the Uk
    (Farmville and Mafia and now Fishville, nice graphix and much better than happy aquarium) Congratulations on a stunning year, great effort, can’t wait to see what you come up with for next year! :0)

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