Earlier today at Facebook’s headquarters in Palo Alto, CA, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers unveiled their latest massive fund: the sFund. This $250 million fund has one mission: to find the best startups in the social space out there and fund them. But Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr has a better way of putting it: “I’m thinking of it like it’s a quarter-billion dollar party.”
I sat down with Doerr after the announcement and subsequent press conference with partners Facebook, Zynga, and Amazon, to talk a bit about the new fund. Doerr noted that the fund itself bubbled up from an idea he put out there at our own TechCrunch Disrupt conference this past May: the “Third Wave“. That is, Doerr believes that the “First Wave” was in the early 1980s with the microchip and the PC. The “Second Wave” was in the mid-1990s when the web came along. Now it’s time for this Third Wave: social, mobile, the cloud, and commerce all coming together.
Prior to this sFund, Kleiner Perkins launched the iFund (and subsequently doubled-down on it), the mobile part of this equation. More specifically, that fund was aimed at the iPhone and later the iPad. But Doerr is quick to note that the intention is not to tell entrepreneurs what to do with these funds. That’s why this sFund is not called the “fFund” or the “fbFund” (obviously, for Facebook), he says.
I also asked about Android. Might we see an “aFund”? Again, Doerr sort of danced around this question by saying again that the goal is just to help entrepreneurs here, not to tell them what they should be working on. The implication there is that as long as the startup is focused on social, Kleiner Perkins doesn’t care which platform they’re working on.
At the same time, Doerr notes that the key to all of this is mobile. “The Internet is moving mobile. And that’s where all the action is,” he says as we discuss our shared love for the iPad.
Another thing he wants to make very clear: “We’re just getting started. This is the early innings, if you will, of social and I can’t wait to see how far it goes over the next decade.” Play ball.
Below, find the video of Charlie Roose's interview with John Doerr at TechCrunch Disrupt.mov in San Francisco.
COMMENTARY: There are very few technology visionaries around anymore, John Doerr from Kleiner Perkins is one, Steve Jobs is another. I am still not sure about Zuck. Doerr's right when he says that the Social Web is the third wave -- the intersection of several technologies: mobile devices, the internet, social networks, location-based social networks, social games, social coupons and mobile apps. All of them have converged and it makes you wonder what kind of new technologies will emerge from this technological soup.
Traditional media is being disrupted by social media and location-based check-in services. My greatest fear is that from these technological soup will emerge a toxic social monster that will penetrate our everyday lives like never before. The evidence is inescapable. Facebook, Google, Myspace, social media gamers like Zynga and Rapleaf and others have all recently admitted to committing atrocious violations of our privacy in the pursuit of the almighty advertising pie and gaining a competitive edge.
I noticed that John Doerr did not elaborate where this technological soup would take us 15 years from now. He says, "We are just in the early innings". I have already credited him with being a technological visionary, but is he being just a bit too naive, not to see the where these new technolgies might end. I am not totally convinced that social media is for the social good of all mankind, but rather a prelude to something more sinister, the disruption of our social lives. The Big Brother we have all dreaded, that Steve Jobs warned us about, that he has become. Then there's that freckled-faced redhead Zuck.
Here's a very interesting YouTube video entitled "Social Media Revolution 2 (Refresh)" that pretty much gives the big picture of what has happened to society with the advent of social media.
Courtesy of an article dated October 21, 2010 appearing in TechCrunch