Zynga wastes 1.3 million years of our time annually -- now it wants a $1B IPO

Zynga, the Maryland-based social gaming company responsible for such popular time-wasters as FarmVille, CityVille, and Mafia Wars, filed for an initial public offering with the Securities and Exchange commission on Friday that values the company at one billion dollars.

In the company's S-1 filing with the SEC today, it neatly lined up all the important statistics that led to the billion dollar valuation: 232 million monthly active users, 60 million daily active users engaging in 2 billion minutes of play per day. When tallied, that amounts to 3805 years worth of gameplay every single day.

Or to put it another way, Zynga games waste 1.3 million years of our time in a single year.

According to Zynga founder and CEO Mark Pincus, games have become the second most popular PC-based internet activity based on time spent, passing email, and they're by far the most popular activity on smartphones, and nearly half of all the time spent in apps is spent playing games.

Pincus says there are four core Internet user activities: search, share, shop, and play, and this IPO will help Zynga "invest more in play than any company in history." This means the company will take on more servers, more data centers, and more infrastructure without changing its methods in game development.

"We will make decisions and trade-offs that are different from other companies," Pincus said. "We will prioritize innovation and long-term growth over quarterly earnings. We will not make short-term decisions that sacrifice our core values or veer from our long-term vision."

Of course, the long-term success of Zynga is almost entirely contingent upon its relationship with --and the popularity of-- Facebook, and the company cites this as the primary risk in its list of risk factors for potential investors. If Facebook loses social market dominance against Google+ or some other newer Web sharing platform, Zynga will also lose out.

Another, potentially more damning fact the company admitted in its SEC filing is that it's very popular, but extremely inefficient.

"We rely on a small percentage of our players for nearly all of our revenue; " the company said. This means that the company has quite a tenuous profit structure. It has to build up the infrastructure to handle millions of players consuming millions of dollars worth of resources, and those users only yield a tiny fraction of the company's revenue; and if it loses a handful of those key profit-yielding players, it could lose a disproportionately large piece of its revenue.

"In order to sustain our revenue levels, we must attract new paying players or increase the amount our players pay," the company's S-1 filing said. "To retain paying players, we must devote significant resources so that the games they play retain their interest and attract them to our other games. If we fail to grow or sustain the number of our paying players, or if the rate at which we add paying players declines or if the average amount our paying players pay declines, our business may not grow, our financial results will suffer, and our stock price may decline."

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