Spotlight on: Mark Pincus, Founder, Zynga

The creator of FarmVille?

Mr Pincus's company makes a host of popular games played on Facebook, from FarmVille and CityVille to Words with Friends, so blame him for global procrastination levels hitting a new high.

I kind of want to thank him.

No need. He has got plenty rich. You can't calculate the money lost in business productivity to his creations, but you can calculate the value of his recently floated Zynga shares, and it's about $1.4bn (£900m).

But didn't the flotation go badly?

They fell below the offer price on day one in December, but since then we have learnt just how much money users are spending on digital farm animals and how important Zynga is to Facebook. About 12 per cent of the social network's whole revenue, since you ask.

So he created Zynga in his bedroom, or something?

Actually, no. He is a 46-year-old economics and business graduate and serial founder of companies, so a little out of the mould of recent internet rock stars. Zynga, founded in 2007, was named after his pet bulldog.

What's the latest news?

A footnote to a new share sale prospectus just revealed that Zynga spent $1.2m on security for Mr Pincus and his family last year. That sounds a surprising amount for a start-up founder, until you remember he had to take out a restraining order against a Russian-born blogger and former stripper.


Terrifying, actually. Vera Svechina is alleged to have threatened his wife and children and even visited his home in person twice in a week. According to Mr Pincus's legal submission, her blog made a series of unhinged claims, including that Zynga was her family's idea and that Google's co-founders killed her father.

He got the restraining order, then?

Yes, and that shiny new security protection system. Stalkers aren't just the preserve of pop stars and actors these days; the rock stars of Silicon Valley have them too.

Stephen Foley

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