Tech news from around the web:

Online game group Zynga has teamed up with Chinese social network Tencent to launch a version of its CityVille game for the mainland Chinese market, VentureBeat reports. Tencent is China’s most popular internet service portal with more than 674m users. Read more

As an unusual sort of company, Zynga comes with an unusual set of warning labels, including its dependence “on a small percentage of our players for nearly all of our revenue”, as the prospectus filed on Friday puts it. That raises an interesting and still unanswered set of questions. Read more

Much has been made of Zynga’s heavy dependence on Facebook, from which it draws the vast majority of its users. For would-be investors in the games company’s hotly anticipated IPO, here’s one more thing to worry about: thanks to recent changes in Facebook’s practices, it is hard to hard to assess what sort of underlying growth trajectory Zynga is on. Read more

Tech news from around the web:

Facebook is gearing up to launch an official iPad app, according to the New York Times. The app has been in production for almost a year and is in the final stages of testing, the report says. Read more

Wooga, a top-five Facebook app developer and one of the social-gaming companies chasing Zynga’s huge lead, has raised $24m in a funding round that will accelerate development of new games. Read more

It was only a matter of time before celebrities sought to extend their personal brands established on Twitter and Facebook to other social arenas such as games, which are capturing as much attention as the stars themselves.
Zynga has been featuring music from Lady Gaga’s latest album inside FarmVille this month in a deal with the singer and now Electronic Arts has announced celebrity chef Jamie Oliver will feature in its own Facebook game, Restaurant City. Read more

Tech news from around the web:

  • Online travel site Expedia is planning to spin off TripAdvisor, in a deal that could value the unit at as much as $4bn, the Wall Street Journal reports. Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedia chief executive,  said the recommendation and travel media site had grown to a point that it was now ready to be spun off into a pure-play media company.

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Tech news from around the web:

  • Zynga, the company behind online games FarmVille and CityVille, is in talks on an investment that would value it at nearly $10bn and could pave the way for an initial public offering next year, the New York Times’ DealBook reports. The company is in discussion  with T. Rowe Price and Fidelity Investments, among other investors, for a round of financing near $500m.

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Tech news from around the web:

  • Twitter is set to more than triple its advertising revenue to $150m this year as more companies use it to spread marketing messages, according to Bloomberg, with ad sales set to hit $250m by 2012.
  • In a move that could let its users avoid having their online actions monitored, Mozilla Corp is planning to add a “do-not-track” feature to its Firefox browser, the Wall Street Journal reports. The announcement would make Firefox the first Web browser to heed the Federal Trade Commission’s call for the development of a do-not-track system.

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The new frontier of social gaming has seemed like the Wild West at times, with developers playing fast and loose in imitating each other’s successful concepts, from FarmTown to Farmville and Mafia Wars to Mobsters.

But there are signs the industry is maturing as bigger players move in, with Disney reaching a settlement with Zynga on Tuesday over its legal dispute with Playdom. Read more

How do you say “Farmville” in Japanese?

Zynga, maker of the popular social game, wants to find out.

To do so, the San Francisco company is entering into a joint venture with Softbank to develop and distribute games in Japan. As part of the deal, Softbank is investing $150m in Zynga, and will help launch the new business unit, Zynga Japan, in Tokyo.

Details of the partnership are scarce, but it will be interesting to see how Zynga’s games go over in Japan, a difficult market for foreign companies to crack. The deal also brings social gaming, which originated in Asian markets, full circle.  Read more

Facebook, the biggest gaming platform in the world with nearly 500m members, will inevitably “screw up” its position, according to the president of rival social network Hi5.

Alex St John, formerly founder of the WildTangent casual gaming company, said Zynga, the biggest and most successful game publisher on Facebook’s social network, is also facing major challenges. Read more

Ever since Facebook first rolled out its own virtual currency, developers have wondered if, when, and how the company would start encouraging the use of Credits across its enormous platform.

The answer is becoming clear, and the time is now. Facebook wants developers to start using Credits in a big way as it works to build a system similar to Apple’s iTunes, where users make lots of small purchases with a credit card kept on file.

Developers are taking the cue. CrowdStar, one of the most successful social gaming companies, just announced it will use Credits as its exclusive in-game currency for at least the next five years. Read more

Yahoo will put social gaming leader Zynga’s Farmville and other distractions on its pages as it tries to revive flagging user engagement and generate more ad revenue, chief executive Carol Bartz said Wednesday.

At a conference for investors and analysts at the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters, Ms Bartz and other executive said they were concerned about the drop in minutes spent on Yahoo pages per user, but promised an array of fixes. Read more

Everyone is happy on the farm. That’s the message from Zynga and Facebook, which just announced a “five-year strategic relationship.”

For two companies attached at the hip, that may sound like stating the obvious. Zynga makes social games like Farmville that are played by hundreds of millions of users on Facebook’s platform, and in turn spends lots and lots of money advertising on Facebook.

But the announcement comes after weeks of speculation that Zynga was growing fed up with Facebook, and might even be considering leaving the platform. Read more

Social gaming company Zynga seems attached to Facebook at the hip.

The vast majority of Zynga’s 120m monthly users come from Facebook, and the slightest change in the Facebook news feed can have a major impact on how Zynga promotes its games.

As of December, Zynga and Facebook even share the same investors.

Mark Pincus, Zynga’s chief executive, sat down with the FT to talk about Facebook, the iPad and the future of social gaming. Read more

Apologies for our second post of the day on social gaming, but the news just keeps on coming in this hot area for the industry.

In fact, the arrival of Twitter and Facebook on the Xbox today is not social gaming in the strictest sense, and the emergence from stealth mode of social game developer CrowdStar is unlikely to frighten Zynga (newly financed as we reported earlier), but both events are worthy of note. Read more

Zynga, the largest social gaming company, has raised an additional $15m in funding, in yet another sign that this nascent industry has quickly become big business in the Valley.

The San Francisco company, which operates games on Facebook, MySpace, and Apple devices, has attracted nearly 200m monthly users to its games. Read more

Social games are oft criticised for being little more than drivel. It’s a fair charge. After all, there’s not much intellectual value in games like Sorority Life and Mob Wars.

Nonetheless, they have become among the most popular activities for users of social networks. Zynga, the largest maker of social games, says it has 50m daily active users of its various games, most of those on Facebook. In turn, Zynga is raking in cash through the sale of virtual goods.

Now Zynga is trying to do a bit of good in the world. At the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco yesterday, Zynga chief executive Mark Pincus said the company was now raising money for charities through “social virtual goods”. Read more

Facebook appears to be moving closer to cashing in on the social gaming phenomenon it has created on its platform and, judging by the numbers being quoted at the second annual Social Gaming Summit, that can’t come soon enough.

In a session on Tuesday featuring executives from leading social-gaming publishers, John Pleasants, the new chief executive of Playdom, revealed its Sorority Life game received feedback from users this month asking for cars as virtual goods, with a pink Volkswagen in particular receiving strong support. Playdom came up with the goods and sold $100,000 worth of virtual VWs in two days. Read more