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Week after Softbank investment confirmation, Zynga picks up a startup to head Zynga Japan
Social gaming goliath Zynga announced on Friday that it has acquired Japanese startup Unoh for an undisclosed amount, guessed to be several billion yen by Japanese business publication The Nikkei.
Having just confirmed last week a $150 million investment from Japanese telecommunications and media corporation Softbank, Zynga definitely has enough cash to carry out an acquisition or two. No one from Zynga has officially commented on all-but-certain reports from mid-July that Google has invested somewhere between $100 and $200 million in the company. But when asked about the deal in an interview, CEO Eric Schmidt replied, “we haven’t announced it, [but] you can expect a partnership with Zynga” in the future.
Depending on how much Google actually injected into Zynga, the social startup has raised somewhere between $400 and $500 in venture capital funding.
Unoh is the latest in a string of acquisitions started almost exactly a year ago, when Zynga purchased MyMiniLife, a social networking site for interior designers. Back in February, the company bought Serious Business, another, smaller social gaming startup on Facebook.
More recently, Zynga in late May acquired XPD Media, a Chinese social gaming company, signaling the company's impending strong move into Asia. Finally, in early June, Zynga purchased Challenge Games, yet another developer of online games fueled by virtual goods.
Zynga's newest acquisition, Unoh, is a Tokyo-based developer of social games for both phones and computers. Founded in 2001, Unoh obviously has much experience developing for its Japanese audience, with many hits released over the years (Machitsuku!, Band Yarouyo!, and Kaizoku Chronicle). The first is a virtual item-fueled free game, much like Zynga's free games on Facebook and elsewhere.
Unoh's office will become the new base for Zynga Japan, which will put Unoh's talent to work, both converting current American titles for an Asian market and developing new games exclusively for both local and international audiences.
Shintaro Yamada, founder and CEO of Unoh, will be heading Zynga Japan.
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Zynga is the largest social gaming company with 8.5 million daily users and 45 million monthly users. Zynga’s games are available on Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Hi5, Friendster, Yahoo! and the iPhone, and include Texas Hold’Em Poker, Mafia Wars, YoVille, Vampires, Street Racing, Scramble and Word Twist. The company is funded by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, IVP, Union Square Ventures, Foundry Group, Avalon Ventures, Pilot Group, Reid Hoffman and Peter Thiel. Zynga is headquartered at the Chip Factory in San Francisco. For more information, please visit www.zynga.com.