A big chunk of the 'Facebook economy' doesn't belong to Facebook: it belongs to individuals and companies who have built Facebook applications.
By some accounts, the revenue generated from these apps will surpass Facebook's own revenue this year. So it's no surprise that Facebook is looking to do more to take direct advantage of the ecosystem it's built.
One of the ways it's going about that: an investment fund.
Its fbFund program, started in partnership with VC firms Accel Partners and Founders Fund, provides financing to entrepreneurs and startups building interesting applications for Facebook. According to the fbFund website, the program has $10m to invest and is putting $25,000 to $100,000 into each investment.
The winners of the latest round of fbFund were recently announced and this time around, each one of them is getting the opportunity to spend the summer in Palo Alto as part of an incubator initiative called fbFund REV.
Sounds good right?
Thanks to a tip from an astute associate of mine, it looks like Facebook and its VC partners should have screened fbFund applicants a little more closely. One of the winners, a company called Life360, posted an ad on Craigslist shortly after it learned it had won. The ad states:
Our company, Life360, was recently named as one of this year’s Facebook Fund winners. Facebook is currently a bit of a side focus for us right now, so we are looking for someone to become our lead Facebook developer and drive this forward.
As our lead Facebook Developer, you would attend all FbFund incubator meetings and sessions for us, and would get the full benefits of being a FbFund finalist, including any publicity that comes from our future Facebook efforts.
We need someone to start ASAP, and commit to working with us full time at least through the summer (hopefully longer if things work out). Pay will keep you alive, the equity comp will be great, and the opportunity we think is awesome—probably the only way to get into the 09 FbFund incubator at this point. We are based in Berkeley, and may be moving to SF in the near future. You would mainly be working from Facebook's incubator.
Nothing inherently wrong with this, but why would Facebook invest money (and incubator resources) in a company that considers Facebook a "side focus", even after winning funding and the ability to participate in fbFund REV? Is Facebook just handing out money and incubator spots without doing any due diligence and thoughtful consideration? When you consider that Accel Partners and Founders Fund in particular have limited partners to answer to, it's doesn't look good that some of the money they've put into fbFund is apparently going to startups that really aren't all that into fbFund. Even though we're talking small amounts here waste is waste.
I'm sure there are plenty of other entrepreneurs and companies that would jump at the opportunity to receive a little bit of funding and participate in Facebook's incubator program. I think Facebook might want to do a better job making sure it's providing its most passionate and eager fbFund applicants these opportunities.
Photo credit: daveynin via Flickr.