Report: PopCap May Hold Off The IPO In Favor of An Acquisition

PopCap Games, an early mover on both the Facebook and iOS platforms with hits like Bejeweled Blitz and Plants vs. Zombies, is the rumored target of what may be a $1 billion-plus acquisition. TechCrunch first reported that the company may be fielding offers north of a $1 billion valuation from candidates like Electronic Arts.

We heard late last week that Electronic Arts may have been looking at a big-ticket acquisition, but were unsure of the target. TechCrunch says that Zynga bowed out because PopCap’s asking price was too high. Tencent is another cash-rich possibility with a valuation of $48 billion. Electronic Arts’ current market capitalization is $7.49 billion and the company reported about $1.57 billion in cash on its balance sheet in the first quarter.

PopCap, which was founded in Seattle in 2000, pulled in just over $100 million in revenue last year, with the bulk of it coming from the Bejeweled and Plants vs. Zombies franchises. It was planning to file for an IPO in the latter half of the year, so acquisition talks are somewhat surprising. The company is also expanding an arm in Asia, which is largely independent from Western operations.

The company said in a statement, “Per company policy, we do not comment on rumors and speculation of this nature.”

A couple of media outlets are pointing to a tweet from a newly hired community manager starting at PopCap next week, saying that TechCrunch’s report is false. The recent hire said in a tweet, “Sorry, I might not have been clear. I was simply stating that @TechCrunch’s article is not true,” on Twitter before deleting the statement.

However, one has to take into consideration that during acquisition talks, usually only the highest-level members of the executive team are aware of or actively involved in negotiations. Mid-, low-level and especially new employees rarely know, so take this with a grain of salt.

PopCap has only raised $22.5 million to date in a single round that happened when the company was already nine years old in 2009 from Meritech Capital Partners, along with investors Larry Bowman and John McCaw.

PopCap Press Tour 2011