To the growing number of tech giants operating in Israel, we now can add mobile gaming giant Zynga. Geektime found out that the American game developer has recruited its first employees in the Holy Land.

$11B valuation, and climbing

Zynga’s first hit came with the highly popular game FarmVille, which drove Facebook users into a virtual farming frenzy back in 2009, earning the company millions of daily users within a few weeks. But FarmVille wasn’t the only hit, many of you have probably played Words With Friends, Zynga Poker, Cafe World, Mafia Wars, and many others. Currently, Zynga’s market cap sits a bit above the $11 billion mark, and the company has been publicly traded on the NASDAQ since 2011.

In 2019, Zynga suffered a major security crisis, when it was reported that hackers had stolen data of over 200 million users. The data included names, emails, passwords, phone numbers, and other private information. Despite an uneasy 2019, the following year saw a boom in the gaming world, with casino games at the center. Zynga took 2020 by the horns, closing out Q4 with earnings north of $600 million, marking a 52% increase year-over-year. The company further reports a daily army of 35 million avid gamers, showing between 70%-100% increase in active users.

Not its first Israeli probe

Back in 2015, Zynga announced that it would acquire Israeli social-casino game company Rising Tide Games. The company was founded by former Paytika execs along with Maytal Olsha, previously at Zynga. This all went down as Zynga was making changes at the CEO position. According to reports at the time, it seemed that as part of the multi-million dollar acquisition, Zynga would establish an R&D foothold in Israel, but it wasn’t the case.

Now, Geektime finds out that the company has hired its first Israeli employee, a former Playtika employee, as Head of Customer Acquisition. He was later joined by another, and they’re both operating out of Tel Aviv.

With this move, Zynga joins the growing list of multinational tech giants establishing a base in Israel’s tech ecosystem, with names such as Dropbox, Qualcomm, Facebook, Microsoft, Booking, Google, Alibaba, and others. Israel is considered a casual gaming powerhouse, and it wouldn’t surprise us if the company kicked recruiting up a notch, or even later down the road finally established an Israeli R&D center.