Facebook developer fund: apply now

"Get your app funded and running on Facebook while learning from the best", boasts Facebook's developer fund. Cash incentives to help feed the social utility's proverbial brain.

"Get your app funded and running on Facebook while learning from the best", boasts Facebook's developer fund. More cash incentives are on offer in return for helping to feed the social utility's proverbial brain.

The company yesterday opened it doors to a new round of applicants seeking a grant to develop applications for the social networking site. Entries must be in by 29 August.

Dubbed "fbFund", Facebook is offering:

  • Funding: Receive $25k to $250k non-recourse grants
  • Mentorship: Learn best practices and receive valuable feedback from Facebook engineers and other fbFund developers. Get immeasurable benefits that come with introductions to potential investors.
  • Marketing: Receive press attention at f8 and Facebook Developer events. You’ll be prominently featured on our Developer website.

The competition consists of two rounds.

Round one is open to anybody who meets some basic criteria. Teams of developers must not have more than $500,000 in formal VC funding and must have at least one developer based in the US.

To be announced on the 22nd of September, 25 winning applicants will be selected to receive grants of $25k each and go through to round two.

Round two, contested by the winners of round one, will award grants of $250,000 to the top five chosen apps. Entries must be in by the 24th of October. As with round one, submissions will be reviewed by the Facebook fbFund Team and Advisory Committee, with the exception that "Facebook users" will be involved in the judging too, although it's not explained how or in what capacity. The eventual winners will be announced on the 24th of November.

The judging criteria makes for interesting reading:

  1. Originality of Concept (17%) Does the application introduce a great idea in a new and unexplored area?
  2. Market (17%) Is this application targeted to key cohorts or meet compelling market needs?
  3. Social/Useful (17%) Does the application enable people to interact with each other? Does it deliver real value to users (incl. entertainment)?
  4. Expressive (17%) Does the application allow people to share more information?
  5. Intuitive (9%) Is the application compelling and easy to use? Does it have a well thought out user experience?
  6. Potential (4%) Can it be a real business someday?
  7. Team (17%) Do you believe this team can execute and is driven to succeed?

At the recent developer conference, Facebook really hammered home the new emphasis on rewarding third-party applications that enable users to share new kinds of information, both useful to users and, presumably, good for advertisers who want to tap into Facebook's prverbial brain. I'm not surprised to see criteria 3 (Social/Useful) and especially 4 (Does the application allow people to share more information?) carry a lot of weight.

The idea of receiving a substantial grant, along with the accompanying exposure both to users and industry insiders (e.g. Venture Capital) will be very attractive to developers, especially as the road to monetization for Facebook apps often leads to nowhere. At least getting some upfront cash for contributing to the platform lessens the risk for new comers and buys some more to time to experiment and figure out a business model.

What else does Facebook expect in return? From the fbFund's FAQs:

Will there be any equity granted in exchange for the investment?
No, The Founders Fund and Accel Partners will have the right to fund these companies first if more funding is desired, but beyond this, no equity or debt will be associated with any grant made.


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