Zynga is making headlines again, but instead of news about its struggles, the attention is on its nonprofit arm, Zynga.org.
Last night, the gaming company that created FarmVille, along with NewSchools Venture Fund, showcased its first class of startups for its brand new ed-tech accelerator co.lab.
For its part, Zynga will pony up $1 million for the accelerator's first year and provide mentorship with employees, including sharing insights on design, marketing and distribution. The company has also allowed the accelerator program to be hosted at Zynga's San Francisco headquarters.
"We’re excited to lend not just space, but, we hope, other talents at Zynga,” founder and former CEO Mark Pincus said to the crowd last night. “I think there’s already been an outpouring of interest from Zynga employees to get involved. Hopefully they don’t join the companies permanently, but if that happens, we’ll live with it.”
Related: Five Keys to Building a Successful Gaming Company
While the program was announced in May and the five startups have been busy at the accelerator since September, this was the first time the companies got to show off their work. The five businesses currently at co.lab include:
- LocoMotive Labs : An educational app for children with special needs.
- Motion Math : Apps involving games for children revolved around numbers and challenges
- Kidaptive: The company behind Leo's Pad, a storytelling app for preschoolers.
- Pluto Media : Music apps for children
- Edmodo : Distributor of games and online educational tools.
Related: An Interview With Zynga.com (Video)
Broadening its horizons beyond mind-numbing games like FarmVille 2, may be a smart move for the struggling company. Anyone with an ear to the ground in tech has heard about Zynga struggles -- from the poaching shenanigans to the fallout of OMGPop's acquisition to the never ending layoffs and departures, the company could use positive publicity. And they just might get it with co.lab.