The Quest for True Signal: How Zynga Spotted Mobile

a16z Podcast

Feb 27 2024 • 48 mins

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.

Topics Covered:

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


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Please note that the content here is for informational purposes only; should NOT be taken as legal, business, tax, or investment advice or be used to evaluate any investment or security; and is not directed at any investors or potential investors in any a16z fund. a16z and its affiliates may maintain investments in the companies discussed. For more details please see