King.com plans Nasdaq float next year
King.com, Britain’s answer to Zynga, is planning to make an initial public offering on Nasdaq next year.
The company, which started out making games for consoles, only moved into Facebook games in April 2011, but its launches such as Bubble Witch Saga now attract over 50m users a month via the social network – ranking it second only to Zynga in terms of popularity.
Riccard Zacconi, chief executive of King.com said it has been “nicely profitable” since 2005 and has a strong balance sheet, but that it is eyeing a flotation to fund the next stage of its growth. Its backers, private equity firms Apax and Index Ventures, are also seeking an exit.
“If we execute well, what we have put on agenda is that we could IPO next year. So far we have not triggered an IPO – we have not appointed a bank – but we are structuring the company so that if we want to take this opportunity next year we can do so,” Mr Zacconi said.
He added that King.com would almost certainly list on Nasdaq, the US market favoured by technology firms, including both Zynga and Facebook.
King.com, which has offices in six locations including London, Sweden and San Francisco, plans to take on around 100 staff in Europe by the end of the year, including 40 in the UK capital.
However, the Italian-born Londoner said the firm wanted to list in the US where there is a more established “culture of entrepreneurship” in the technology sector.
“In Europe you have still a culture where, if your company fails, you have failed as a person. In the US, [it is seen as] important to fail in order to learn something,” he said.
King.com’s games are free to play, but the firm makes money from advertising and charging for virtual goods and short cuts.
Its games are particularly popular among women in their 30s, who tend to pay for a few minutes between other tasks.
Facebook now provides more than half of all of traffic to King.com, and management hope to take advantage of the rapid adoption of smartphones.
Mr Zacconi has a double-digit minority stake in King.com, with Apax is its largest shareholder at about 50pc.