Oct. 18, 2013, 10:29 AM
- "We believe that Google's (GOOG +12.8%) ability to monetize experiences through engagement-based services will allow it to disrupt many hardware and software layers over time," writes Evercore's Ken Sena, exemplifying the glowing analyst commentary that has followed Google's Q3 beat.
- Sena, who is raising his PT to $1,100, sees Google's services investments pressuring near-term margins, but also creating "a stronger platform ecosystem in which more collected data, better predictive analytics, and an increased amount of screen connectivity will lead to better overall search economics in addition to new opportunities."
- Needham and Jefferies have raised their PTs to $1,150, and Deutsche has raised its target to $1,220. YouTube's mobile growth, strong paid click volumes, and the potential for Enhanced Campaigns to lift search ad sales (after doing less damage than expected in Q3) are all mentioned as reasons to stay bullish.
- U.S. Internet peers continue to rally in sympathy: FB +4.1%. LNKD +3.7%. YELP +7.8%. AMZN +3.3%. Z +3.9%. TRLA +4.8%. ZNGA +2.8%.
- Foreign Internet names are also moving higher: BIDU +5%. YOKU +6.9%. SINA +3.7%. RENN +4.4%. QIHU +4.9%. DANG +5.9%. YNDX +4%. SIFY +3.4%.
- Google's Q3 results, details, CC remarks, transcript
Oct. 17, 2013, 7:05 AM
Oct. 14, 2013, 1:41 PM
- Though Zynga (ZNGA -1.4%) laid off nearly a fifth of its workforce earlier this year, Eric Jackson thinks the struggling social game developer needs even bigger cuts. Whereas Candy Crush Saga developer King (reportedly seeking a $5B IPO valuation) only has 600 employees, Zynga ($2.9B market cap, $1.4B enterprise value) still employs 2,300 people.
- Jackson is pessimistic about Zynga's near-term game pipeline - the company's quarterly DAU/MAU figures have been bleak, and the recent mobile launch of CastleVille has underwhelmed - but optimistic about new CEO Don Mattrick's ability to strengthen Zynga's game lineup in time. He also thinks (in spite of concerns to the contrary) Mark Pincus is giving Mattrick the freedom to reshape Zynga as he sees fit.
- Q3 results are due on Oct. 24.
Sep. 27, 2013, 5:37 PM
Sep. 26, 2013, 5:43 PM
- King, developer of the wildly popular Candy Crush Saga Facebook/mobile gaming franchise, has secretly filed for an IPO under the JOBS Act, the Telegraph reports.
- The WSJ reported in June King had hired banks to pursue a U.S. IPO. The game developer is believed to have had annual revenue of £300M ($481M) going into 2013. Its Facebook monthly active user base passed that of struggling rival Zynga (ZNGA) earlier this year.
- According to AppData, King currently has 3 of the 4 most popular Facebook apps on an MAU basis: Candy Crush Saga (#1), Pet Rescue Saga (#2), and Farm Heroes Saga (#4). 3 other games are in the top-100.
- Zynga's most popular title, FarmVille 2, comes in at #12. It's followed by Texas HoldEm Poker (#14). 6 other games are in the top-100.
- One question bound to be on investors' minds: can King avoid the boom/bust cycle Zynga has seen in an intensely competitive social/mobile gaming scene where upstarts frequently make it big?
Sep. 12, 2013, 10:05 AM
- Zynga (ZNGA +2.5%) has been upgraded to Equal Weight by Evercore. The firm had been bearish on Zynga for some time.
- Netflix (NFLX -1.6%) has been cut to Equal Weight by Morgan Stanley. BTIG downgraded shares yesterday.
- Symantec (SYMC -0.5%) has also been cut to Equal Weight by MS.
- Cognex (CGNX -0.9%) has been cut to Neutral by Citi. Piper upgraded shares yesterday.
- Polycom (PLCM +1.1%) has been upgraded to Outperform by Raymond James a day after the company announced a $400M buyback.
- Constant Contact (CTCT +2.5%) has been upgraded to Buy by Janney.
- ASML (ASML +3.8%) has been started at Conviction Buy by Goldman. Peer ASM International (ASMI +2.5%) has been upgraded to Buy.
Sep. 6, 2013, 9:23 AM
- In a coverage launch for Internet stocks, Barclays has started Zillow (Z), YELP, and Shutterfly (SFLY) at Overweight, Zynga (ZNGA), OpenTable (OPEN), HomeAway (AWAY,), and InterActiveCorp (IACI) at Equal Weight, and Vistaprint (VPRT) at Underweight. Z +1%. YELP +4.1% to new post-IPO highs. Deutsche started coverage on Yelp at Buy after the close yesterday.
- Canaccord has started Splunk (SPLK), Datawatch (DWCH), and ServiceNow (NOW) at Buy.
- EZchip (EZCH) has been upgraded to Buy by Chardan Capital.
- VeriFone (PAY) has been upgraded to Outperform by Wedbush following its FQ3 beat and solid FQ4 guidance. PAY +7.3%.
- T-Mobile USA (TMUS) has been upgraded to Outperform by William Blair. TMUS +0.9%.
- InterXion (INXN) has been cut to Market Perform by Oppenheimer.
Aug. 28, 2013, 4:57 PM
- Facebook (FB) and 3D game engine developer Unity have released an SDK that allows developers to create PC and mobile Facebook 3D games.
- Facebook product manager George Lee notes nearly 100M Facebook users have Unity's engine installed, up from 30M six months ago. The SDK, already being tested by some developers, eases the installation process for Unity and allows Facebook interactions to happen while a game is played in fullscreen mode.
- 260M of Facebook's 1.15B monthly active users play games, largely casual titles such as Zynga's (ZNGA) FarmVille 2 and King's Candy Crush Saga. For Zynga, 3D Facebook gaming could represent both a growth opportunity and (to the extent it affects casual gaming activity) a threat. Given the way Zynga's sales have been trending, the former might outweigh the latter.
- A handful of Facebook developers have launched console-type games this year. Last October, Facebook exec Matt Wyndowe said his company is looking to enable real-time gameplay between users, while insisting Facebook has no plans to become a game developer itself.
Aug. 20, 2013, 10:17 AM
- Janney's Tony Wilbe and Murali Sankar have started coverage of Facebook (FB +0.4%) with a Buy and $50 PT, and Zynga (ZNGA -2.8%) with a Sell and $2.50 PT. Zynga is selling off; Facebook opened higher, but has since pared its gains.
- In addition to making the usual comments about Facebook's mobile potential, the analysts argue Facebook has "a unique opportunity to gain [ad] share by working with TV networks," in light of research indicating U.S. consumers are increasingly using smart devices during ad breaks rather than fast-forwarding ads.
- They also argue Facebook is "ideally positioned to break historical barriers to entry" in the payments market (previous) on account of its 1M ad buyers, 1.1B users, and widespread adoption of Facebook Connect by third-party sites/apps.
- But with regards to Zynga, Wilbe and Sankar assert the company is seeing a "vicious cycle" of declining game activity and friend-to-friend promotional work. Tough competition and a changing relationship with Facebook are also raised as concerns.
- Oddly enough, the analysts also suggest next-gen console launches are a threat to both Zynga and Facebook's gaming-related revenue, and that "a substantial portion" of Zynga's 1.9M unique payers are hard-core gamers. The FarmVille and Call of Duty user bases aren't historically known for having huge overlap.
- Sell-side commentary on Facebook has been quite bullish (I, II) lately.
Aug. 13, 2013, 8:07 PM
- New Zynga (ZNGA) CEO Don Mattrick has outlined his big restructuring in a company memo. As previously reported, COO David Ko, CTO Cadir Lee, and HR chief Colleen McCreary are leaving.
- In a move that faintly resembles ex-employer Microsoft's big reorg, Mattrick is splitting Zynga's operations into 3 divisions: Functional; Studios; and Tech, Live Ops, and Publishing. The divisions will have a combined 13 managers, all of whom will directly report to Mattrick.
- Within the Studios unit, former President of Games Steve Chiang is now in charge of most of Zynga's 'Ville titles, and former chief revenue officer Barry Cottle is is now in charge of social gambling titles such as Zynga Poker. The FarmVille games remain the responsibility of Tim LeTourneau.
- The COO position is gone, and the CTO position is being split into two roles. HR exec Meg Makalou has been named VP of Human Resources, which effectively replaces McCreary's position. CFO Mark Vranesh's title is unchanged.
- Investors are taking the shakeup in stride, ZNGA -0.3% AH.
Aug. 13, 2013, 5:04 PM
- Sources tell AllThingsD Zynga (ZNGA) COO David Ko, CTO Cadir Lee, and Chief People Officer (i.e. HR chief) Colleen McCreary "will step down from their positions" as part of a restructuring launched by new CEO Don Mattrick.
- A company announcement is expected today.
- Over the last year, Zynga has already seen huge layoffs and a C-suite restructuring that yielded a CFO change and Ko's appointment as COO. It has also seen an avalanche of executive departures amidst plunging bookings and a slumping stock price.
Aug. 5, 2013, 5:23 PM
- Four Facebook games developed by Zynga's (ZNGA) OMGPOP unit (acquired last year for $180M+) will be shut down by month's end, and the OMGPop.com site will be shuttered on Sep. 30.
- All of the games had less than 50K monthly active users, per AppData.
- OMGPOP's Draw Something games will continue to be supported.
- The game closings come after Zynga's OMGPOP studio became a casualty of the company's June layoffs.
- TechCrunch reports "multiple OMGPOP team members" tried to buy the site and other OMGPOP assets, but were rebuffed. Zynga reportedly claimed "this would all take too much legal work."
- As its Q2 stats indicate, Zynga has lost considerable Facebook gaming share over the last year.
Jul. 30, 2013, 12:26 PM
- Facebook's (FB +5.5%) initiative, which has been in trial mode, gives mobile game developers free ads and other promotional support in exchange for a revenue cut.
- Facebook exec Dan Morris: "The idea is not to show one game to all users but to ... match users with the games they like."
- Facebook has already been successful at promoting games and other mobile apps via its app install ads.
- The service, which could give smaller developers more promotional reach, is arguably a negative for Zynga (ZNGA -1.2%), which depends a lot on its ability to cross-promote games to users playing other Zynga titles.
- Zynga has been gradually ramping its own publishing efforts. Activision (ATVI - previous) and Glu Mobile (GLUU - previous) also have mobile publishing ambitions.
- Previous: Facebook closing in on IPO price.
Jul. 29, 2013, 9:41 PM
- Sources tell Bloomberg Zynga (ZNGA) games SVP John Osvald, games VP Nathan Etter, and casino games chief Jesse Janosav have left the company since Don Mattrick was named CEO.
- Osvald and Etter helped run the team responsible for the FarmVille franchise (still Zynga's biggest revenue driver), and Janosav was in charge of the successful Zynga Poker and Zynga Elite Slots (based on virtual, rather than real, money).
- The report comes a few days after shares dove thanks to Zynga's light Q3 guidance and (more importantly) decision not seek a U.S. online gambling license.
- Om Malik argues Mark Pincus is at the root of Zynga's problems, and predicts Mattrick will only last 16-24 months. "That’s about the time it takes for Pincus to fall out of love with new executive hires."
- Other recent departures: Andy Tian, Dan Porter, Brian Reynolds, Jonathan Flesher, David Wehner
Jul. 26, 2013, 1:04 PM
Zynga's (ZNGA -15.3%) decision not to pursue real-money gambling in the U.S. probably has more to do with a fear of rubbing shoulders with heavyweights such as Wynn Resorts (WYNN -0.4%) and MGM Resorts (MGM +0.2%) with their deep pockets than concerns a major market doesn't exist for online gambling, according to early analysis. The other interesting angle is Zynga could be positioning itself for a strategic partnership with a company that already has the requisite gaming licenses.| Jul. 26, 2013, 1:04 PM | 9 Comments
Jul. 26, 2013, 12:45 PMMidday top 10 gainers: GENT +52%. USU +41%. INPH +40%. PBIB +31%. MKTY.PK +29%. ETRM +21%. CREG +18%. ZHNE +17%. BCOV +17%. URRE +15%.
Midday top 10 Losers: HTCH -30%. EXPE -25%. SWI -22%. HXM -20%. IPCI -20%. COBR -19%. TSYS -18%. GAI -17%. AIMC -17%. ZNGA -16%. | Jul. 26, 2013, 12:45 PM | 1 Comment