UPDATE: Yesterday evening after our post went up, Zynga’s What’s the Phrase moved from no. 3 to no. 1 for top free games in Apple’s App Store and is currently holding down the top spot.
Zynga New York hasn’t always had the chummiest relationship with Zynga’s corporate office back in San Francisco. The East Coast outpost was formed a year ago after Mark Pincus acquired OMGPOP and its mobile juggernaut Draw Something–installing OMGPOP CEO Dan Porter as general manager.
Things started to sour last fall when Zynga blamed a $95.5 million write down on its $183 million OMGPOP acquisition for a bad quarter. But after a round of office closures, Zynga New York remained open, which is in line with gaming giant catching the all-mobile-all-the-time bug from Mark Zuckerberg. COO David Ko (Mr. Pincus’ no. 2 man) also continues to speak highly of Draw Something and the upcoming, Ryan Seacrest-approved Draw Something 2.
Zynga has lost another exec. The struggling company’s chief game designer Brian Reynolds has resigned. [VentureBeat]
Sorry, Facebook: Twitter is now the fastest-growing social platform in the world. No data yet on who owns the universe, though. [GlobalWebIndex]
Netflix wants to become the next HBO. So, lots of shows with gratuitous nudity and cursing just ‘cuz, “It’s premium cable, man.” [The Verge]
McDonald’s is the new study hall. Hey, it’s not like the library has french fries. [Wall Street Journal]
Startup visas may soon become a thing after the President endorsed them in a recent speech. But what about all those lawless seafaring incubators? [Huffington Post]
At the eleventh hour, a security bug was discovered in Facebook’s “Midnight Delivery” feature, which made it possible to see and even delete users’ New Year’s messages to friends. Whoops! It’s been fixed. [TNW]
As part of a plan to cut costs, Zynga has shut down a raft of games over the course of December. The latest: PetVille and Mafia Wars 2. [TechCrunch]
Guess Nate Silver’s election-day triumph didn’t singlehandedly slay the gut feeling in favor of big data, after all: “What is intuition at its best but large amounts of data of all kinds filtered through a human brain rather than a math model?” [New York Times]
Techies we lost in 2012. [Wired]
“But there is a darker possibility, too, which is that some people will own workbots before other people do, and that the people who lack workbots won’t be able to keep up with those to do.” Happy New Year, ya’ll! [New Yorker]
Bad news for anyone looking to launch a real-money gaming startup: The AP reports that in a recent poll, half of respondents said they wanted sports gambling legalized–but a whopping three quarters thought Internet gambling specifically ought to remain off-limits.
Guess everyone just wants to stake their paycheck on how Eli Manning feels this weekend? Read More
JPMorgan Chase agreed to acquire the online coupon site Bloomspot for $35 million. Good to seek synergies in case the world doesn’t end. [Bloomberg]
Another precautionary measure: Seven months after raising $6.5 million in a funding round led by Union Square Ventures, Behance has been acquired by Adobe Systems. Behance said that it would remain in New York in a blog post discussing the deal. [Behance]
Zynga confirmed that it’s shutting down its Japanese operation at the end of next month. If we get there. [TechCrunch]
Three Google executives were cleared by an Italian appeals court, which reversed a lower court’s findings that the execs violated a child’s privacy by failing to remove a bullying video. [Reuters]
NASA is going to keep blogging that the world isn’t really ending until the sidewalk opens up and swallows its communication team whole. [NASA]
Maybe it was a given that tech companies would have a few hiccups in their 2012 Securities and Exchange filings, what with the influx of new companies learning the ins-and-outs of public reporting and the high-profile nature of more established companies. Read More
Square is now offering gift cards, redeemable anywhere Square is accepted. You’ll need to use the company’s wallet to send a card, but not to redeem one. [Fast Company]
For a use case look to Jack Dorsey, who’s using the product to send gifts like $100 worth of tacos. [Twitter]
No more Instagram photos in your Twitter feed, fostering FOMO among your followers. [AllThingsD]
Several big-name tech companies are making another attempt to stifle patent-trolling. Firms including Google and Facebook have filed an amicus brief in a case currently being argued in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals, asking that the court set a precedent against lawsuits based on patents for things like “an ecommerce platform.” [TechCrunch]
The World Conference on International Telecommunications just got underway, and already nations including China and Russia have attempted (and just as quickly abandoned) a push for the Internet to be considered composed of government-controlled networks. [ZDNet]
“Any horse that has the name ‘Awesome’ in it? I bet on it!” Walter Hessert told us earlier this week from inside one of those noise cancel-ish sofa pods in the south wing of General Assembly. Also present in said pod: his brother Thomas Hessert. Along with a third brother (Bill) and their CTO Eric Gay (no relation), the Hesserts are the cofounders behind Derby Jackpot, an addictive online game that almost made Betabeat late for our meeting.
Showing up for an appointment seemed more professional than waiting to see if we’d parlayed the $2 offered to beta users into something more, so we sucked it up and hopped on the N. But it was a heady example of why companies like Zynga are counting on real money gaming to offer real revenue in the otherwise hits-dependent social gaming industry that relies on ad revenue or virtual sheep. Read More