Gaming's next big thing, King.com, is hurtling toward an IPO as relentlessly as millions of players swap colored candies in its wildly popular title Candy Crush Saga.
There's no subtle way to put it, judging from the buzz of activity at the company's headquarters [in London] a few weeks ago -- where developers are putting the final touches on new titles amid a hiring binge.
"We're not just one hit," a press-shy King CEO Riccardo Zacconi told USA TODAY in an exclusive interview in early September here. "By the end of the year, we will launch a handful of new titles. We have lots of work to do."
His point was underscored emphatically late last week, when the company he co-founded in 2003 quietly filed an S-1 document with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an IPO, according to a source who asked not to be named because they are not authorized to speak on behalf of King.
King declined to comment.
King's secretive filing, similar to one that allowed Twitter to keep its IPO confidential, could be worth $5 billion, according to a report in the (London) Daily Telegraph, citing an anonymous source. If there were any doubt about its long-term ambition, King last week hired a chief financial officer, Hope Cochran. She held the same title at Clearwire, which built the first 4G network in the USA and merged with Sprint in 2012.
"It's the IPO that Candy Crush built," says Brian Blau, an analyst at market researcher Gartner .
A Game That Keeps on Giving
King has grabbed the attention of investors and analysts largely because of the worldwide success of Candy Crush Saga. The arcade game has helped King reach nearly 250 million monthly active players and generate a few million dollars a day. It has also redefined how games are designed, monetized and delivered to consumers.
Such dizzying numbers have put King in the same tech IPO conversation as Twitter. Both anticipated public stock offerings come amid a dearth of tech public offerings. Just one in six new U.S. listings this year have been tech-related stocks, making 2013 potentially the second-worst showing in 20 years, according to data provider Dealogic.
Tech's lag is fallout from Facebook's faltering IPO in May 2012. Before it, Zynga stumbled out of the IPO gate in December 2011. (continued...)
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