Four months after Facebook announced the formation of the $10 million fbFund to provide seed capital for startups building Facebook apps, MySpace is responding with its own incubator to be called Slingshot Labs. According to the NYT, the incubator will be financed by News Corp. but will be separate from Fox Interactive Media’s incubator. As we get more details on Slingshot Labs, we will keep you informed.
An incubator is more of a hands-on approach than a seed-capital fund, but will still allow MySpace to focus on its main business while fostering interesting new ideas. As it gets ready to launch its MySpace Developer Platform, the company will want a way to help create viable businesses around its social network. Although one source tells us that the startups will be focussed on more than just MySpace.
It is also our understanding that Josh Berman, currently MySpace COO, and Colin Digiaro, senior vice president of International Corporate Development, are going to go head up this incubator. Both were part of the founding team. But Tom DeWolfe and Chris Anderson got the big $7 million-a-year contracts. This could be a way to give them their own fiefdom with some nice upside if they make the right bets. Amit Kapur, the current VP of business development and a pretty young guy, is slated to step in as COO of MySpace. We have not confirmed these personnel moves with MySpace yet.
Corporate incubators have had a mixed history of success in the past. Sometimes giving startups too much shelter prevents them from adapting quickly enough to the harsh realities of the market. Of course, corporate venture capital funds have their own problems, especially when investments are based on corporate priorities rather than on pure economic ones. Which do you think is the better route?