Zynga investment push punts $9 billion valuation

Social gaming specialist Zynga looks to be making its creators a mint, with its latest round of funding said to be valuing the three-year-old company at a massive $9 billion.

While Zynga has yet to confirm the valuation, the Wall Street Journal cites 'people familiar with the matter' as suggesting that the company is processing a round of funding that sees the company receiving a cash injection of $250 million based on a valuation between $7 billion and $9 billion.

The company, responsible for unleasing on the world a horde of insanely addictive 'casual' games on social networking sites such as Facebook and best known for its FarmVille title, last issued stock back in April at a valuation of $4 billion - suggesting the company has doubled its worth in under a year.

Considering that the San Francisco-based company was only founded three years ago, the valuation suggests massive investor interest in the fields of casual and social gaming. While the company is certainly making money through advertising, analytics, and the sale of in-game items for real money - a 'person familiar with its finances' claims a profit of around $400 million last year - the purported valuation would appear to be based more on its potential than its current turnover.

With an estimated 275 million active users, Zynga has proven that the social gaming paradigm can pay - but investors should be careful that the company doesn't get upstaged by the inevitable Next Big Thing in the casual gaming space.