MENLO PARK, CA – Here’s one West Coast fund we think may interest many entrepreneurs in the Southeast: top venture capitalists Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) has unveiled a new $250 million sFund to invest in social web applications and services.
Amazon.com, Facebook, and Zynga, the leading companies defining today’s social and online environment; entertainment and media leaders Comcast and Liberty Media, and Allen & Co., have committed to invest in the sFund and serve as strategic partners.
The sFund will provide financing, counsel, and relationship capital for a new generation of entrepreneurs to deliver on the promise of the social web, KPCB says.
“We’re at the beginning of a new era for social Internet innovators who are re-imagining and re-inventing a Web of people and places, looking beyond documents and websites,” said KPCB partner John Doerr. “There’s never been a better time than now to start a new social venture.”
We’re always happy to see new money available for entrepreneurs, but we have some doubts about just how many social web apps are going to make a big splash. Many users of social apps and services seem perfectly happy to stick with Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, although many do use third-party apps to access or
The sFund will be led by KPCB partner Bing Gordon, former chief creative officer and longtime executive at Electronic Arts and board director of Amazon.com and Zynga. Gordon said, “Social is just getting started and the opportunities are vast. As in the early days of the Internet, the race is on. Today every business, organization, and entrepreneur should have a social strategy.”
“Social apps are viral, and when they hit, it often happens suddenly, and then they grow explosively. That’s one of the reasons the scalable, elastic, no capex, variable cost nature of Amazon Web Services is ideal for social apps,” said Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon.com. “The top three companies that develop for Facebook all use AWS.”
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, said, “The Web is being rebuilt around people, and we’re at a point where any app, website, or device can be designed to be social from the ground up. We’re focused on enabling entrepreneurs to build companies that can disrupt their industries.”
Mark Pincus, founder and CEO of Zynga, noted that “Zynga’s successes – such as FarmVille and Mafia Wars – show the speed with which entrepreneurs can transform existing industries and invent entirely new ones through social platforms. Our model demonstrates consumers’ desires to connect with others in new and valuable ways.”
Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast Corp., said, “Social businesses play an increasingly important role in our entertainment and communications products. We’re very pleased to be a part of the sFund and look forward to seeing the great innovations that are generated from its investments.”
All anchor investors in the sFund initiative are prioritizing developer services for entrepreneurs, who will be part of an active ecosystem. The strategic partners launching the sFund each bring unique contributions. Amazon Web Services (AWS) will provide AWS Getting-Started Support for one year, priority access to worldwide Startup Events, and dedicated business and technical support.
Facebook will contribute access to its platform teams, beta APIs, and new programs, like Facebook Credits. Zynga will host periodic sessions with sFund companies to focus on management and technical development, including open source collaboration. Comcast Interactive Capital, Comcast’s venture fund, will provide access to Comcast’s resources, teams, and relationships.
KPCB will have 10 U.S. partners working on the fund, including Chi-Hua Chien, John Doerr, Eric Feng, Bing Gordon, Lila Ibrahim, Randy Komisar, Aileen Lee, Matt Murphy, Ellen Pao, and Ted Schlein. Another four KPCB partners in Shanghai will extend the sFund’s reach in China.