Feature

The fallow fields of FarmVille

Silicon Valley game-maker Zynga “has entered what looks like a death spiral.”

Farhad ManjooSlate.com

Silicon Valley game-maker Zynga “has entered what looks like a death spiral,” said Farhad Manjoo. The creator of hit games like FarmVille and Words With Friends, Zynga enjoyed a blisteringly fast rise, culminating in an IPO last December that valued the then 4-year-old firm at $7 billion. But despite notable early successes, “nobody in Silicon Valley respects Zynga,” grousing that it rips off other gaming firms’ ideas and lacks a profitable future. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, the company seems adrift and “without a purpose,” apparently content to “convince suckers to spend a lot of time and money tending virtual flowerbeds.” In that respect, it’s an unfortunate throwback to the tech-bubble years; “if you’re looking for this generation’s Pets.com, Zynga is pretty much it.” Now its stock price is tanking and executives are fleeing, and it only has itself to blame, since “it has never created anything truly novel.” Truth be told, Zynga’s demise might be a positive development for the tech industry. It would prove that “investors and customers can’t be hoodwinked for long,” and that if companies hope to survive, they have to “start building amazing things the world hasn’t seen before.”

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