Pushing regulatory rules has become de rigeur when American internet firms prepare to go public. The infamous Playboy interview with Larry Page and Sergey Brin published during the “quiet period” before Google’s 2004 flotation, and more recently Groupon’s leaked memo spring to mind.It should be no surprise, then, that one of Silicon Valley’s hottest firms held its biggest ever press event during its enforced “quiet period”.
Zynga filed to go public four months ago, and co-founder Mark Pincus knows that a lot has happened since. Wall Street gyrations delayed some $9bn-worth of IPOs, not to mention Zynga’s 90% fall in second-quarter profits to $1.4m, reported just four weeks ago.
Frustratingly for the 150 journalists invited to Zynga’s new San Francisco HQ, questions involving numbers were almost always rebuffed. All others were referred to the company’s S-1 filing.
But, as is often the way, the internet darling came out top.
Zynga emerged as a company semi-autonomous from the internet giants – Facebook and Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) – on which it has built its business. Zynga’s new frontiers, Project Z and HTML5, pitch the four-year-old startup as more than a opportunist trading on others’ platforms.
The challenge now is how it handles “hypergrowth”, as Marcus Segal, Zynga’s chief operating officer of game studio operations, called it.
Asked how Zynga avoids a situation where employees become affected by stock ownership and newfound riches, Segal downplayed the significance of its upcoming IPO.
“At Zynga, we’re totally focused on where we want to go. Zynga wants to become an internet darling. We want Zynga to equal play in peoples’ minds,
That’s what we’re really focused on,” he told the Guardian in an interview after the keynote.
“The IPO is a point in time, but it’s the beginning, it’s not the end and all of us know it. I feel like Zynga’s just scratching the surface and not anywhere near the end of the road.”
Zynga’s new headquarters, opened for the first time to journalists, symbolise a company on the up. The five-floor building houses more than 1,700 employees, and is peppered with classic 70s furniture.
Despite the eye-catching decor, most journalists’ thoughts were 40-odd miles down the highway, at One Infinite Loop, where fresh bouquets were being laid to mark a week since the death of Steve Jobs, the Valley’s greatest showstopper.
This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.