Still on the fence about joining us next Tuesday evening, April 24th at the ING DIRECT Cafe LA for our Social Games Explosion panel? RSVP NOW:

Do you or someone you know play Farmville? Well, let me introduce our third guest speaker for the evening.


Sizhao “Zao” Yang is currently the COO/co-founder at BetterWorks, Inc., a perks platform for small and medium sized businesses.

Zao Yang, COO of Betterworks

Previously, he co-created Farmville, and was the CEO/co-founder of MyMiniLife, Inc. (sold to Zynga Game Networks, Inc.).  After the acquisition, MyMiniLife became the common technology platform at Zynga and powers 150M monthly users including games like Cityville, Farmville, and Frontierville. He also designed the Farmville iPhone application (top iPhone app), and worked on corporate development deals including Microsoft, Yahoo, Zynga Japan, and Zynga corporate strategy. He is also an active investor with stakes in companies like Hipmunk, GroupMe, Facebook, Zynga (acquisition stock), and SV Angels. He received a B.S. in computer science at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

Betterworks is a start-up in Santa Monica that focuses on rewarding your workforce. Have your ears perked up? This is a business platform where employees can earn rewards and members (participating partners) has the group-buying power (like Groupon) to get those perks to their employees. It can be tough to get those big corporate discounts for employees if you don’t have the volume of a Fortune 500. What if you only have 4 employees but still want to reward your small but mighty staff?

While I’d love to be a small business that takes part in Betterworks, we have to go back to the subject at hand. I still have some questions about social gaming and Farmville for Zao next week:

1. Who/what/how did Farmville get started?

2. While the cash to coins market isn’t new (see World of Warcraft), did Farmville’s popularity make it the biggest social game for Facebook commerce (cash for coins)?

3. What advice do you have to budding social gaming agencies who are looking to be the next Farmville or Draw Something?

4. Are you still playing Farmville? *g*

5. You’ve come from playing and designing games on Facebook to designing a platform for small and large businesses to leverage their ‘buying’ power and reward employees. Where are you in the Betterworks timeline and where do you want to take Betterworks?

Don’t want Zao to answer my questions? No problem. Head over to ING DIRECT Cafe LA next Tuesday evening and put your hand up! We want you to ask questions and learn from all of our panelists! See you there!