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King Digital Entertainment, the company behind Candy Crush Saga and other social games that users play largely through Facebook, priced its initial public offering late Tuesday at $22.50 a share. The stock is set to begin trading Wednesday under the symbol “KING” on the New York Stock Exchange.
King is often compared to Zynga, the company behind Words With Friends, FarmVille and other games. Like Zynga, celebrities have been known to throw some free publicity their way. Words With Friends has Alec Baldwin in its corner, for example, and Candy Crush Saga has been talked up by the likes of Adam Levine and Emma Roberts.
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King said it had 408 million monthly active users at the end of last year, and it earned $567 million in 2013, up from $8 million a year before. Revenue grew from $164 million in 2012 to $1.9 billion a year ago.
Its most popular game, Candy Crush Saga, boasts about 97 million users daily who manipulate colored candies to solve puzzles. Other games include PetRescue Saga and Farm Heroes Saga.
Eleven-year-old King was founded in Sweden, and it raised $500 million in its IPO. The price of its shares values the entire company at $7.1 billion. Similarly, Zynga’s 2011 IPO valued that company at $7 billion, though its shares have trended lower, and its market capitalization was at $4.2 billion on Tuesday.
King nearly went bankrupt in late 2003, when it was known as King.com; but instead it raised more money, and it has been profitable every year since 2005. It is headquartered in London and run by co-founder and CEO Riccardo Zacconi, who will own 9.5 percent of the company after the IPO.
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