dwlt.thinksOutLoud

On PopCap's IPO

A post on Gamasutra (misleadingly captioned as being ‘In- Depth’) discusses the possibility of PopCap going public later this year. I have some “issues” with it.

But the transition from a privately held developer/publisher into a public one usually results in some changes to the corporate culture …

Does it? Citation needed, I think. I honestly can’t think of any comparable example. Kuju and Warthog are two developers that went public in the UK a decade ago, but they weren’t masters of their own destiny. PopCap are.

Billy Pidgeon, senior analyst of M2 Research, then chips in:

They have sort of a Disney or Nintendo thing going on in that there’s a certain expected quality to their games. … I’d really be concerned about their growth strategy, as it could cannibalize the elements that have made them successful so far.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but Disney and Nintendo are both public companies, aren’t they? Both companies growth strategies are predicated on exactly that “expected quality”. Why wouldn’t that strategy work for PopCap?

As the article notes, PopCap has gone from $0 to $100 million in 10 years, and is evidently making $1m per month just from Bejeweled Blitz and Zuma Blitz. It’s strategy appears to be working.

Pidgeon notes that despite the company’s growing reputation, it still takes pains not to rush titles.

I’d argue that the “company’s growing reputation” is exactly why it takes pains not to rush titles.

Clearly, I have no idea if PopCap will go public or not – I believe they’ve been preparing for it for a couple of years, though (based on who joined their board and the fact they started talking a lot more to the press). The success or otherwise of the LinkedIn IPO will be just one factor.

All I’ll add is that going public the week after Toy Story came out didn’t do Pixar any harm in terms of their culture and growth strategy.