Bloomberg.com | Facebook Flirts With Local Geeks in Battle for Russia
As of yesterday, Facebook’s stock has lost 43 percent since the company’s initial public offering in May. St. Petersburg- based VKontakte shelved its planned IPO after Facebook shares plunged. Facebook fell 1 percent to the equivalent of $21.64 at 9:52 a. m. in Frankfurt trading. Mail. ru declined 0.6 percent to $32.30 in London.
One Moscow-based developer, Game Insight, was among the first in Russia this year to add Facebook to its list of supported platforms, which so far included VKontakte as well as Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s and Google Inc. (GOOG)’s mobile operating systems.
“Russia has become one of Facebook’s priorities and management is paying attention to it,” said Alisa Chumachenko, Game Insight founder and chief executive officer. “Developers are excited that Zuckerberg is here. Facebook is set to show fast growth in Russia now.”
Sometimes referred to as the Russian equivalent of Zynga Inc. (ZNGA), Game Insight was founded in 2010 and employs more than 400 people. Its “Airport City,” a city-building game, and “Mystery Manor,” a clue-finding adventure, have both passed the one-million user mark on Facebook.
About a third of the 34 apps built during the Facebook contest this week were games, made by developers hoping to replicate Game Insight’s success. Some chose to port existing apps from VKontakte to Facebook to save time. In one demonstration, programmer Jacob Ilin flipped his “Cut a Sheep,” a puzzle game revolving around a herd of sheep, in less than six hours.
“BoostMate,” an app for managing one’s friendships using Facebook, won the first prize in the event. Its maker, Ashot Golovenko, said he plans to hire more programmers to turn the beta version into the final product.