The highly-anticipated initial public offering for Zynga is moving forward, with Bloomberg News reporting that the maker of FarmVille, Mafia Wars and other social media games priced 100 million shares at $10 each Thursday afternoon, raising about $1 billion.
CNBC notes that it is the largest Internet IPO since Google raised $1.7 billion in 2004.
The San Francisco company is expected to begin trading on the Nasdaq Friday morning, with the LA Times pointing out that there’s been a lot of “bearish chatter” around the company.
Zynga, which established a branch office in Seattle earlier this year under the direction of former Amazon vice president of technology Neil Roseman, had anticipated selling shares in the range of $8.50 to $10 per share.
Selling at the top-end of the range signals strong demand among institutional investors. But it is unclear whether the company will be able to sustain its estimated $7 billion valuation, which is now more than LinkedIn and rival Electronic Arts. By comparison, Expedia boasts a market cap of $7.3 billion.
Interestingly, TechCrunch points out that the share sale at $10 comes below the last private round of financing in which venture capitalists such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers bought in at $14 per share. (TechCrunch editor Erick Schonfeld, however, notes that Kleiner Perkins bought most its shares for 42 cents).
UPDATE: As of 8:30 a.m., shares of Zynga were off to a slow start. The company’s stock was up just 1.4 percent, trading at $10.14. We’ll watch the performance throughout the day.
Previously on GeekWire: Tech IPOs start with a strong pop, and then promptly tank