a16z Podcast

The Quest for True Signal: How Zynga Spotted Mobile

Joshua Lu and Mark Pincus

Posted February 27, 2024

You might recognize the name Mark Pincus but we almost guarantee you recognize the game Farmville.

Mark Pincus is the founder and longtime CEO of Zynga, known for its massive global franchise of games, including those household names like Farmville and Words with Friends. Zynga was also at the forefront of the transition to mobile and the use of large platforms like Facebook for distribution.

In this episode Mark joins Josh Lu from the a16z Games team for a fireside chat. They discuss navigating major tech waves and recognizing “true signal” opportunities, and explore a wide range of topics, from the strategic insights that propelled Zynga to success, the future of the Metaverse, and the philosophy behind minimum viable products.

This conversation offers invaluable insights for both gaming industry insiders and enthusiasts looking to understand the dynamics of tech innovation and entrepreneurship.

Show Notes

00:00 – How Zynga Spotted the Mobile Wave

02:47 – Challenges of Starting Zynga

05:24 – Zynga’s Early Workforce and Learning HTML

07:40 – Preparing for Tech Waves

11:29 – The Importance of Being Too Early

15:42 – The attribute of great founders

18:33 – Hiring Philosophy

22:02 – ‘Everyone is  a CEO’

24:20 – Fast Iteration and Learning from Failures

31:06 – Personal Gaming Preferences

32:52 – Advice on Reevaluating Projects and True Signal

35:50 – AI’s Role in Consumer Adoption and Gaming

40:17 – Community as a Core Element

43:31 – UGC Gaming Space and Future Computing Paradigms


Find Mark on Twitter: https://twitter.com/markpinc

Find Josh on Twitter: https://twitter.com/joshlu

Learn more about SPEEDRUN 3.0: https://a16z.com/speedrun3

Learn more about SPEEDRUN: ttps://a16z.com/speedrun-your-gaming-startup

More About This Podcast

The a16z Podcast discusses the most important ideas within technology with the people building it. Each episode aims to put listeners ahead of the curve, covering topics like AI, energy, genomics, space, and more.

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