Zynga Hires Team From Poker Industry Service Provider MarketZero

Zynga is announcing today that it has “acquired the team” from MarketZero, a long-time poker services provider. The Austin, Texas company, which is apparently not being acquired itself, runs a web site for online card players called PokerTableRatings. Self-described as a “collection of useful tools designed to help poker players maximize their online profits,” the site includes a variety of community and reporting tools so players can find friends, research the history of opponents, and more.

Our understand is that the MarketZero team is going to work on improving Zynga’s oldest top title, Texas HoldEm Poker. Like other online poker games, Texas HoldEm Poker sees a high volume of transactions and is vulnerable to fraud, hacking and real money trading scams. Just last month, a British man convicted of stealing 400 billion chips from the game, some of which he sold on eBay, was sentenced to two years in prison. MarketZero’s expertise could help Zynga cut down on similar fraud risks and improve user experience. We understand that Zynga is not interested in entering the real money online poker market.

Launched in the early days of the platform, Texas HoldEm found a ready player base among online card players, and quickly grew to become one of the company’s most valuable properties. Zynga used the experience building the title — and the revenue generated from it — to power into role-playing games and eventually simulations. Today, all these years alter, it still has 6.95 million daily active users and 36.9 million monthly active users according to our app tracking service, AppData. That’s substantially more than any other card game. Maybe the hires will be tasked with beefing up the title’s offerings for its large and die-hard user base?

Yet, this so-called acquisition could just be a pure talent grab. The team also provides custom software development and consulting services to other companies, and perhaps Zynga will distribute the new hires — founders Gustavo Abdala, Amir Elaguizy, Nir Leibovich, Timothy Sullivan and Jason Wang — to other parts of the company.

Zynga also highlights that this is its eleventh acquisition of late. The previous ten:

  • XPD in Beijing
  • Challenge Games in Austin
  • Unoh Games in Tokyo
  • Conduit Labs in Boston
  • Dextrose AG in Frankfurt
  • Bonfire Studios in Dallas
  • Newtoy Inc. in McKinney, Texas
  • Flock team
  • Area/Code, New York
  • Floodgate Entertainment