Serial entrepreneur Mike Jones has led and help found a number of companies. As CEO of Userplane, AOL acquired the company in 2006. After leaving AOL, Jones started Tsavo Media, which was acquired by Cyberplex for $75 million. And in Jones’ latest role, as CEO of flailing social network Myspace, the company was bought by Specific Media in June. Jones subsequently left, and today, is officially announcing his next venture. He’s launching a new Betaworks-like technology studio/incubator in LA, called Science.
Jones has received $10 million in backing from a number of well-known investors including Eric Schmidt’s Tomorrow Ventures, Rustic Canyon, White Star Capital, The
Social+Capital Partnership, Tomorrow Ventures, Jean-Marie Messier, Philippe
Camus, Jonathan Miller and Dennis Phelps.
Jones tells me that Science isn’t going to be an incubator in the way that Y Combinator or TechStars incubates companies for three months and then released them. He explains that Science is adopting the Betaworks-style of actually creating and acquiring new ideas, talent, and resources and building startups from the ground up with no set time period attached.
Science focuses on three things: developing new businesses, providing emerging startups with operational advice and capital, and transforming later-stage Internet assets with new talent and innovation.
“After Myspace, I wanted to get back to launching new businesses at the seed stage,” Jones says, “And I didn’t want to do it as an investor.” He says that he realized that a lot of money and time is wasted in early stage startups when setting up the platform and foundation for each startup. Drawing from his experience in LA, he wanted to apply the hits-based movie business that studios use with incubating technologies and startups.
So Jones and his team have built a process from the ground up to see implement the studio model with building tech ideas. He didn’t reveal too much about the process but said that the way by which Science tests e-commerce ideas is different from evaluating social or mobile product lines. “When we look at a business concept, we needed a fast way to test the concept and see if it is worth ramping up,” Jones says.
The studio will both accept ideas from entrepreneurs and invest in these startups as well as create businesses in-house. The company also has a number of major media partners on board that will be revealed at a later point. In terms of the concentration of ideas, startups will dabble in the intersection of content and commerce, media and commerce, socially enabled services, and mobile.
Through a structured framework, Science shepherds entrepreneurs through the critical phases of growth for their business, such as product design, business strategy, marketing and business development. It also provides them with a network that helps them hire staff, create a business development pipeline and gives them access to expert advisors, entrepreneurs, later stage VCs, and
strategic partners in Los Angeles, Silicon Valley and New York.
Currently, Jones says Science has assembled a management team of seasoned entrepreneurs who together have deep knowledge of all aspects of Internet businesses and can provide guidance for startups accelerating growth. “With Science’s model, we can centralize resources, lower the cost to launch new businesses, execute more rapidly and effectively help startups avoid the pitfalls they typically face,” Jones adds.
A number of institutional LPs are interested in investing in the LA market but need a structure to invest in, says Jones. He says that we can expect a number of bigger LP play in Science in the future.
Certainly, considering Jones background as an entrepreneur (who has successfully sold a number of technology companies besides Myspace), Science could be an attractive place to incubate an idea. “We’ve seen what works, what doesn’t work, built and sold several business, raised lots of money and succeeded failed in lots of ways,” he explains.
As for the first idea to come out of Science, Jones wouldn’t reveal much but did say we can expect news very soon. Stay tuned.