Zynga, the online gaming company best known for its Farmville Facebook game, has received a US$150 million investment from Japanese Internet company Softbank.
The two companies plan to form a joint venture, Zynga Japan, that will develop and distribute social games across Japan, they said in a statement.
Softbank is one of Japan's largest Internet content companies and has a record of partnering with and investing in foreign Internet companies. It was an early investor in Yahoo and today remains the largest shareholder in Yahoo Japan. It is also the local partner of MySpace and in May it invested $10 million in UStream.
Few details about Softbank's partnership with Zynga were available, but the two companies said Zynga Japan will target PC users and the mobile Web.
Softbank has ready access to millions of potential users through its Yahoo services. Yahoo Japan has about 24 million active monthly users with accounts, of which 7.6 million pay for the Yahoo Premium service. On the mobile Web Softbank can reach about 18 million people through Yahoo Keitai, a version of Yahoo that appears as the default Internet home screen on Softbank Mobile phones.
Absent from the news release were any details of an investment by Google. A possible deal between Zynga and Google has been the subject of much rumor and speculation over the last few weeks.