Kleiner's iFund to invest in 'Apple entrepreneurs'

Venture capitalist John Doerr pledged $100 million to fund entrepreneurs that build market-changing applications for the iPhone and the iPod Touch.

John Doerr, the venture capitalist known for his investment in Google and for choking up on stage about the environment, is now showing his love for Apple.

On Thursday, Doerr pledged $100 million to fund "Apple entrepreneurs" who build applications for the iPhone and the iPod Touch, an announcement he delivered personally at Apple's unveiling of a new software development kit. Doerr said his company Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which will manage the so-called iFund, will invest in several new companies that develop software or services on the Apple platform.

Doerr joked at Apple's headquarters that the $100 million should be enough to start "four Googles."

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"Today we're witnessing history, the creation of the third great platform," Doerr said, referring to the Mac and iPod. "It's bigger than the personal computer."

The iFund will be managed by KPCB partner Matt Murphy, with help from Doerr, Sun Microsystems co-founder and KPCB partner Bill Joy, among others. The venture capitalists will be looking at entrepreneurs with "market-changing ideas" in areas including location-based services, social networking, mobile commerce, communication, and entertainment.

The iFund aims to invest in entrepreneurs that can be standalone public companies, according to KPCB.

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The iPhone opens up for business
Click here for complete coverage of Apple's iPhone SDK announcements, which give the hot-shot gadget its entree into Corporate America and even the gaming world.

It's an incestuous world between Apple and KPCB. Al Gore, a member of Apple's board, recently joined KPCB to head up the venture firm's efforts to fund green technology companies. And Apple executives plan to act as consultant to KPCB's iFund about the market.

Major technology companies have already built applications using the Apple SDK and Apple CEO Steve Jobs featured those tools at the company's event. AOL, for example, developed AIM for the iPhone; and Salesforce.com built a version of its sales management tools for the IPhone with meeting-location features.

"Developers are already bursting with ideas for the iPhone and iPod touch, and now they have the chance to turn those ideas into great companies with the help of world-class venture capitalists," Jobs said in a statement.

Doerr said that he believes that several new companies will emerge as the new platform emerges. "If you want to invent the future, the iFund wants to help you build it."

What's next? The Facefund for widget makers?

 

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