We’re here at Facebook’s headquarters as venerable Silicon Valley venture capital fund Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers launches the $250 million sFund. We’re live-blogging the event as we go.
It’s another fund that focuses on social products and applications. Bing Gordon, the former chief creative officer at Electronic Arts, is leading the fund. Ten U.S. partners and four ones based in China will be helping source and vet deals for the fund.
It sounds similar in structure to Kleiner’s earlier $200 million iFund, which focused on companies on the iPad and iPhone (see our post from yesterday for more on that).
Other companies involved include Amazon and Zynga, as well as boutique investment bank Allen & Company and telecommunications giant Comcast. Amazon is providing support to its web services for 1 year and access to worldwide startup events.
Kleiner’s partner John Doerr is joined on-stage by Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Zynga chief executive Mark Pincus and Bing Gordon.
His presentation is about the future of the social web and he’s unveiling a new stealth startup Kleiner has invested in called Cafebots, founded by a Stanford University computer science professor Yoav Shoham.
He also points to Mike McCue’s Flipboard, a social magazine for the iPad that Kleiner invested in earlier, and Jive, an enterprise company. He also mentions Lockerz, a company focused at pre-teens and young people that helps them shop and connect.
“Our purpose is to find and fund the success of these new social entrepreneurs,” he said. Doerr said the impetus for the fund came about a year ago after seeing the growth of Zynga.
Zuckerberg takes over and says the usual talking points about making the entire web social. “The ones that are built from the ground-up as social applications are going to be better than the ones that just slap it on at the last minute,” he said.
Doerr asks Zuckerberg about what he would build today if he was leaving Harvard now.
“There’s a big opportunity to take any industry and reinvent in a social way. I’m personally interested in communication,” he said. “The thing we’re unambiguous about that in all these industries, there are going to be more social version of apps that are going to be disruptive and be better at monetization than their predecessors.”
Pincus comes in: “I think we are at this point in time where there are so many platform changes and disruptions happening at once. There is completely new consumer behavior and experience that is happening in front of our eyes. We are starting to build new expectations of what a service should be like. It should be logged in. It should know you. That’s new because everything used to be anonymous.”
“This is a period where VCs are actually behind the curve,” he said. “On the consumer facing side, I’m personally just bugged that there isn’t a great travel service. Why don’t I have an app that I can have on my iPhone, Blackberry that knows that I’m at the airport. It knows my flight is cancelled. It knows that I’m traveling with somebody and it’s already recommending the next option and it would be nice if it recommended a game I could play in the meantime.”
Bezos chimes in. He says he hopes a lot of the companies funded will use Amazon Web Services (AWS), which provides the infrastructure and data services that power some of Facebook’s biggest applications. “When social products hit, they grow quickly. Those play to the strengths of AWS,” he said. “All three of the top Facebook development companies are using it extensively.
Bing Gordon comes in. “When Zuck announced the platform, it was like an epiphany to me. I never imagined that an entertainment platform wouldn’t have silicon in it.”
He said the average friend count will go from 130 to 500, and the average post count will go from 1 to 10.
“I think people’s engagement on social graph is going to go from 15 minutes to 30 minutes to an hour per day per person connected to social. That’s because you can’t see your friends faces when you’re watching TV.”