Thursday, October 21, 2010

Amazon, Kleiner Perkins and Facebook Start $250 Million Social Innovation Fund

Social InnovationIt is always great when you see companies doing their part to help out their business in a way that isn't increasing prices or trying to put the competition out of business. When a company or companies start up something to help out a market out of sheer generosity, it really is something special.

On the stage at Facebook's Palo Alto headquarters, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner John Doerr announced sFund, a staggering $250 million fund to back social innovation.

The sFund is a collaboration between Kleiner Perkins , Facebook, Zynga, Amazon, Comcast, Liberty Media and Allen & Company. Every single one of these seven companies is an investment partner in the fund.

According to Doerr, "If you can't invent the future, the second best thing to do is fund it."

Together Kleiner Perkins, Facebook, Zynga, Amazon, Comcast, Liberty Media and Allen & Company will provide financing, advice and "relationship capital". Amazon will offer up one year of Amazon Web Services to the entrepreneurs.

Facebook will provide early access to its platform and APIs. Zynga plans to host sessions for sFund companies for advice on technology and business management, and Comcast will make available its resources and relationships.

During the press conference, four specific startups were mentioned by name, one of which was Flipboard, the acclaimed iPad application for social news consumption. The other three startups were said to be Cafebots, Jive Software and Lockerz. Cafebots is the only sFund project the partners have invested in to date.

Facebook has already shown a vested interest in social innovation. The world's largest social networking company recently partnered with Y Combinator to inspire the next wave of social innovation around Facebook.

For those of you who didn't know, Kleiner Perkins is the same firm that started the $100 million iFund. The iFund helped to finance the iPhone application development. The fund was later doubled to $200 million to spur app development and innovation on the iPad.
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