SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Kleiner Perkins will team up with Facebook, Zynga, Amazon.com and other media corporations to set up a $250 million fund to invest in social media startups.
The “sFund,” which will also have Comcast, Liberty Media and boutique investment bank Allen & Co as investors and strategic partners, will be led by Amazon and Zynga board member Bing Gordon, formerly Electronic Arts CEO.
It will provide financing, counsel and capital for entrepreneurs working in the rapidly expanding social Internet. Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg told reporters at his Silicon Valley headquarters there was an unprecedented opportunity to invest in the social-media evolution of industries from online retail to music in coming years.
“There’s going to be an opportunity over the next five years or so to pick any industry and rethink it,” he said.
The games industry was the first example of a business transformed by the social Web, with social gaming — playing among a community like Farmville or Mafia Wars — now among the most popular activities on the Internet.
Others primed for a similar transformation included e-commerce, music and other sectors that will increasingly build social Web applications to take advantage of the networking phenomenon, Zuckerberg argued.
“We’re at the beginning of a new era for social Internet innovators who are re-imagining and reinventing a Web of people and places, looking beyond documents and websites,” Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers partner John Doerr said in a statement ahead of a news conference at Facebook’s Silicon Valley headquarters.
“There’s never been a better time than now to start a new social venture.”
Specialized applications like games are popular on Facebook. According to the world’s largest social network, more than 70 percent of its users interact with such applications every month.
Applications startups have become some of the hottest Internet properties. For instance, Walt Disney Co and Electronic Arts are among the media players that bought social gaming companies in the past year.
Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic, editing by Maureen Bavdek and Bernard Orr