John Doerr took the stage today at Apple’s announcement of its iPhone software developer kit and announced a $100 million fund to invest in startups that create apps for the iPhone. “”I can’t wait to see the great new companies that we build together,” he says. The fund will be led by Matt Murphy at Kleiner and will be called the iFund. From the the Kleiner Perkins Website:
KPCB’s iFund is a $100M investment initiative that will fund market-changing ideas and products that extend the revolutionary new iPhone and iPod touch platform. The iFund is agnostic to size and stage of investment and will invest in companies building applications, services and components. Focus areas include location based services, social networking, mCommerce (including advertising and payments), communication, and entertainment. The iFund will back innovators pursuing transformative, high-impact ideas with an eye towards building independent durable companies atop the iPhone / iPod touch platform.
Steve Jobs truly wants to turn the iPhone into an industry, and he got Kleiner to jump start it with $100 million. That should get the ball rolling on iPhone-only startups. Some ideas we’d like to see get funded: an iPhone-only social network and a company that can make Flash work on the iPhone (that would be huge). Pictured to the left is Electronic Art’s Spore on the iPhone, which will be released in September.
The iPhone does have many unique features (you could base a whole startup on just creating accelerometer apps), but those features also become quickly copied. Everywhere you turn there is another touchscreen phone these days. Does it make sense to start a company that produces apps only for the iPhone and no other mobile device? Maybe what we will see are startups that develop for the iPhone first and then port to other mobile phones.
But you don’t need a new $100 million fund for that either. We are seeing that already as the iPhone is becoming the de facto mobile platform for mobile Web apps. Actual third party applications won’t be available until June, but developers can start building today.