San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
People love to count Mark Pincus out, and he loves to prove them wrong. When he was starting Zynga, everyone argued he was spending too much money and that the lean Playdom was a better company. Everyone said casual games and virtual goods wouldn't become mass market pastimes. Everyone said it was too risky to build a company so totally reliant on Facebook.
Every time I spoke with Pincus in those early days -- when the general public had no clue how much money the company was already bringing in -- he'd sort of grit his teeth and say to critics, "Okay, let's wait and see."
An IPO with a $3.6 billion market cap later, and many of those same people are still making similar gripes. And Pincus is still grinding away, working to prove them all wrong.
While Zynga's life as a public company so far has been rocky, it is unequivocally one of the biggest companies of this era, lead by one of the most interesting -- and polarizing-- entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. Try entering "Mark Pincus" into Google. You get a lot of interesting auto-fills, the first one being "Mark Pincus jerk."
That's far too simple of a modifier. Pincus is an entrepreneur who pushes boundaries, pushes people, and helps push the Web into the future bit-by-bit. When that's your MO, you ruffle feathers. But while he has detractors, he also has some of the most powerful people in the Valley willing to back anything he ever does.
Pincus is joining us on stage at PandoMonthly San Francisco next Thursday, where we'll talk about his tumultuous multi-company, multi-decade entrepreneurial journey. It's not a fairy tale story of an overnight success. This is the story of a grinder. You won't want to miss this one.