The future is social - internet giants, Facebook, Amazon and Zynga are willing to put their money on it by backing social web entrepreneurs.
The sFund will provide financial assistance, technical support and “relationship capital” for start-ups pushing the boundaries of the social media industry.
In addition to a funding pot of £250m (£160m), largely from venture capitalists Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers (KPCB), Amazon and Facebook are offering access to their own platforms, beta APIs and new programmes for the lucky entrepreneurs who meet their criteria.
According to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, the motive behind this latest move is the backers’ shared belief that all industries will be radically influenced in the future by social media.
“We think that every industry is going to be fundamentally rethought and designed around people,” Zuckerberg said.
Believing that social media will continue to have a huge impact on our day to day lives, the backers of the sFund are keen to support start-ups from all sectors, but will not finance companies that would be in direct competition with Facebook, Amazon or Zynga. A similar scheme called the iFund has been supporting companies that create applications for Apple devices for two years. IFund is also backed by KPCB.
The first company to receive sFund investment is Cafebots, who specialise in “friend relationship management”.
Bing Gordon of KPCB and chief creative executive at Electronic Arts told the BBC, “social is just getting started and the opportunities are vast. As in the early days of the internet, the race is on.”
According to the BBC’s technology reporter, Maggie Shiels, this latest initiative could be bad news for Google, whose social strategy is yet to be announced. After all, it strengthens Facebook’s online presence at the foreground of web development. In spite of their differing approaches, however, the internet giants seem to be moving in the same direction. If they are right, online businesses from all industries will have to adapt to keep up.