If you can't beat 'em, buy 'em. That might as well be the maxim over at Zynga, which today bought Omgpop – the company behind the wildly successful "Draw Something" app – for a reported $200 million. Draw Something was originally brought to the company's attention when Zynga's chielf mobile officer, David Ko, caught a few employees slacking off and playing it during work (honestly, who hasn't?) Zynga was then forced to make a difficult decision; either create their own version of the game – a tactic they've employed in the past – or buy the company behind it. Obviously, they chose the latter.
"Draw Something's" growth shows no signs of slowing. Over 1 billion pictures were drawn on the app over the past week and the game is drawing around 12.2 million daily users. The app has already been downloaded 30 million times across iOS and Android. The money generated by the app comes from a combination of in-app purchases, advertising and paid-app revenue.
While $200 million may seem like a lot for an acquisition, some folks on Wall Street are already saying that Zynga got the better deal. The New York Times quoted Simon Khalaf, the CEO of the movile analytics firm Flurry, as saying “Omgpop sold way too early. They’re leaving $800 million on the table.”
Zynga is widely hated on the blogosphere for its aggressive business practices, lack of innovation and cut-throat workplace culture. But Omgpop had little alternative; their game was already crashing Amazon's data centers, and with two thirds of their staff working on the game, they were letting other game titles languish. “Zynga is the only company in the world that has nailed scale for this kind of game,” Omgpop CEO David Ko said.
Zynga is also good at improving existing games, and we bet they'll help improve "Draw Something." While I really love guessing my friends' drawings, I think the game needs to begin allowing other features like the ability to chat with your friends while they're drawing and save pictures to your phone. Also, it would be awesome if the game somehow knew when players were cheating (like simply drawing a word) and was able to stop these folks from winning. Otherwise, there's little legitimacy to a real win.
In any case, this is good news for Zynga, good news for Omgpop and good news for fans. We'll keep you posted on what happens next!