Kara Swisher

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Zynga and SoftBank in an Online Games Joint Venture in Japan–And Officially Confirm $150 Million Investment

zynga

Online games phenom Zynga and Japanese Internet and telecom giant SoftBank announced a joint venture to develop and distribute social games across Japan.

The new Tokyo-based service will be called Zynga Japan and is Zynga’s first foray into that country.

The companies also said SoftBank had completed a $150 million investment in Zynga, which had been previously reported.

It’s Zynga’s second major move into Asia. In May, the start-up acquired China-based social gaming developer XPD Media.

The San Francisco-based Zynga, of course, has been on a tear of late too, striking deals with Yahoo and Google, as it seeks to expand its distribution from Facebook, the social networking platform where it first took off.

Zynga also recently signed a five-year agreement with Facebook.

SoftBank made other digital news yesterday when it announced that it would switch Yahoo Japan’s algorithmic and paid search from Yahoo (YHOO) to Google (GOOG).

Here’s the official press release:

ZYNGA AND SOFTBANK CORP. LAUNCH JOINT VENTURE TO ACCELERATE SOCIAL GAME INDUSTRY IN ASIA

SOFTBANK INVESTS $150 MILLION IN ZYNGA

SAN FRANCISCO and TOKYO–July 29, 2010–Zynga and Softbank today announced a joint venture that will develop and distribute social games across Japan. The new joint venture, Zynga Japan, brings together leaders in social games and consumer technology to offer millions of new users the ability to play social games anytime and anywhere. In conjunction with today’s announcement, Softbank has completed a $150 million investment in Zynga. With this agreement, Zynga and Softbank will tighten their relationship as business partners.

The joint venture extends Zynga’s reach to a wider global audience and marks the company’s first foray into the rapidly growing internet and mobile market in Japan. Based in Tokyo, Zynga Japan will tap into Japan’s rich history of gaming and leverage Softbank’s cutting edge mobile and Web technology to produce the best social games in the market.

“Zynga is a leader in social games and I am delighted to partner with them to introduce their social games to Japan,” said Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of Softbank. “We share the same vision as Zynga in social games and look forward to working together to create a social game powerhouse.”

“We’re excited to partner with Softbank to bring Zynga’s social games to Japan and gain insights from the Japanese market,” said Mark Pincus, CEO and Founder of Zynga. “As one of the most innovative technology companies in the world, Softbank is bringing the mobile internet to consumers making the social web more accessible to people everywhere.”


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik