Facebook adds to funds pool for app developers

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Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, announced at the TechCrunch 40 conference the establishment of a $10 million funding pool for Facebook app developers.

The funding is being provided by Accel (who are investors in Facebook) and the Founders Fund. Developers will be given grants of between $25 and $250k.

The main conditions are:

  • Applicants cannot have already received a funding round; and
  • Accel and the Founders Fund will have a right of first refusal to invest in the first round of financing for any successful company.

Accel’s Jim Breyer and the Founders Fund’s Peter Thiel will work together with Chamath Palihapitiya, Facebook’s VP of Product Marketing & Operations on managing the fbFund pool.

This initiative will also have a Board of Advisers, which includes notable angel investor Reid Hoffman (Founder of LinkedIn), Josh Kopelman from First Round Capital and Google’s Rajeev Motwani.

This changes the playing field somewhat for Bay Partners’ AppFactory and Altura Ventures’ Facebook fund. All competition is good, but when it’s from the Social OS mothership itself…suffice it to say it makes the next three month instalment in the unfolding of the Facebook ecosystem very interesting.

The general feedback out there is positive. As Fabian Schonholz says: “I think this is brilliant. It keeps the machine self feeding and creates a tighter ecoystem. Basically internally supported external ideas. The best of all worlds. Really smart.”

I’ve posted the formal Q&A below. Two questions, though:

  • They make mention of a business plan with your application — Bay Partners isn’t looked for a fully formed plan, is the fbFund raising the bar — I suspect not, and when they put up the online application form the answer will be revealed
  • Can developers apply in relation to an existing app already running on Facebook?

What is fbFund?
fbFund is a fund focused on continuing to create incentives for the development of applications on Facebook Platform by accepting applications for $25,000-$250,000 non-recourse grants from anyone interested in building their business on Facebook Platform. The grants will not come with any conditions except that the grantee use the funds to build their company on Facebook Platform.

What is the total investment in the fund?
Initially, the fund will make available $10 million in capital. This may grow over time.

Who is eligible?
Any individual or company, anywhere in the world can apply as long as they have not raised any formal venture funding.

What companies are involved?
fbFund will be administered by Facebook and funded by Accel Partners and The Founders Fund.

Will there be any equity granted in exchange for the investment?
No, The Founders Fund and Accel Partners will have the right to fund these companies first, but beyond this, no equity or debt will be associated with any grant made.

Who is participating in fbFund?
The investment committee will be comprised of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO, and Chamath Palihapitiya, Facebook vice president of product marketing and operations. Facebook board members Jim Breyer (Accel Partners) and Peter Thiel (The Founders Fund) will also be part of the committee. Additionally, the fund will rely upon an advisory council that includes Reid Hoffman, founder and chairman of LinkedIn; Josh Koppelman, founder of First Round Capital; and Rajeev Motwani, professor of computer science at Stanford University and early advisor to Google.

Why are you forming this?
We are forming this fund to help grow the Facebook application ecosystem. By decreasing the barrier to start a company, we hope to entice an even larger group of people to become entrepreneurs and build a compelling business on Facebook Platform. We hope this is also a funding model that other venture capitalists will follow.

How will you decide on investments?
Anyone will be able to apply for an fbFund grant from the Facebook website. All proposals will be reviewed by the advisory council and then approved by the investment committee. The goal is to get decisions to potential grantees within the month that they apply.

How does an individual or company apply?
Initially, you can mail your business plan to platform@facebook.com. In coming weeks, we will set up an online submission process. Submissions are being accepted immediately.

What will be the criteria for selection?
We want to see the most innovative and ambitious proposals for building a business on Facebook Platform.

How long will it take to hear back from the fund?
The goal is to get a response to the applicant within 30 days of receipt.

[Picture courtesy of 704 Race]

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