Monday, January 14, 2008

Mark Pincus: More Than Games, a Net to Snare Social Networkers

"FRIENDSHIP means being able to sink each other’s battleships.
That is the thinking of Mark Pincus, a well-known Silicon Valley entrepreneur who has built several Internet start-ups, including and the early social network On Tuesday, Mr. Pincus is pulling the wraps off the Zynga Game Network, a company devoted to developing online games that work on the pages of popular sites like Facebook and MySpace.
Zynga, which has 27 employees, has spent the last few months quietly reinventing card games like poker and blackjack and classic games like Risk, Boggle and Battleship. Users of social networks can add the games to their profile pages and play with their friends online.
The games, particularly Zynga’s version of Texas hold ’em poker, have already amassed hundreds of thousands of regular users. The company and others like it share a belief that Internet ventures can be created on the backs of the rapidly growing social networks. Last year, these networks invited entrepreneurs to take advantage of their big crowds of users and to keep the revenue they generate from advertising.
Whether this approach can generate big profits over the long term is not clear, but plenty of people are giving it a try. More than 7,000 applications have been introduced on Facebook since the company opened to outside programmers in May, and more than 80 percent of its users have added at least one application. Seasoned companies and small start-ups alike are rapidly developing add-ons for Facebook and other sites, including MySpace, which has promised to open its service to developers early this year."

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