Zynga Files for IPO

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Zynga, creator of uber-popular Facebook games like FarmVille and CitiVille, filed for an initial public offering Friday to raise $1 billion.

The IPO, which comes on the heels of successful, buzzy offerings from other social media firms like LinkedIn ( LNKD) and Yandex ( YNDX), may rank as one of the largest IPOs of the year.

It is seeking a valuation for as much as $15 billion to $20 billion.

Zynga, which generates revenue through the sale of virtual goods in its games (like chicken coops in FarmVille), posted a profit last year of $90 million on sales of nearly $600 million, according to the company's S-1 form.

The company has 60 million active daily users across its games and 232 million monthly users.

"As we look to the future, we believe our core values will be key to our continued growth -- our goal is for everyone at Zynga to be a CEO with accountability and authority to drive important outcomes," said founder and CEO Mark Pincus, in a letter to shareholders included in the S-1. "We've endeavored to create an environment that fosters intelligent risk-taking in order to invent bold beats -- innovations that really advance the social gaming experience for our players."

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley will serve as lead underwriters for the offering, along with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital and J.P. Morgan as joint book-running managers. Allen & Co. will be senior co-manager.

There's been some concern from tech watchers about Zynga's dependence on the Facebook platform. Last year, Zynga protested against demands from Facebook that the company adopt its Facebook Credits payment system within its games. Zynga eventually agreed to a five-year deal to use Facebook Credits.

Zynga, in turn, has been working to diversify its business further into mobile. The company is behind popular smartphone games like Words with Friends and Zynga Poker and on Wednesday inked a deal with AT&T ( T) to offer customized games and content to the carrier's customers.

In his letter, Pincus said to expect continued investment in servers and data centers, so that "players' farms, cities, islands, airplanes, triple words and empires can be available on all their devices in an instant."

Zynga's filing comes at a time when many large Web companies are looking to tap the public markets.

LinkedIn, which went public in May, saw shares more than double on its first day of trading. While shares fell in the days following the IPO, LinkedIn has rebounded and is now trading at around $94 -- more than double its offer price.

Pandora ( P), which debuted last month on the public markets, is trading at around $20, above its offer price of $16.

Daily deals company Groupon filed for a $750 million IPO last month, while near-term offerings from Facebook and LivingSocial are also expected.

"While I'm humbled by the size of the audience we enable to play today, we're just getting started," wrote Pincus. "Let's play."

--Written by Olivia Oran in New York.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/Ozoran.

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