Because opening up the site just wasn't enough, apparently: Facebook is branching into a new role as an investor. The company has announced a new program called FBFund to provide grants to developers who are interested in creating applications for the Facebook Platform. FBFund, with cash infused by Facebook investors Accel Partners and the Founders Fund, will start with $10 million and will provide $25,000-$250,000 grants to developers who apply for the program. The fund's investment committee will consist of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, vice president of product marketing and operations Charmath Palihapitaya, and board members Jim Breyer of Accel Partners and Peter Thiel of the Founders Fund.
The big requirement: the developer in question, who may be an individual or company, may not have raised prior formal venture funding. No equity or debt will be associated with participating developers, and the only major condition (at least for now) is that the money awarded must be used to develop the company in question on the Facebook Platform.
A release from the company explained the FBFund program: "By decreasing the barrier to start a company, we hope to entice an even larger group of people to become entrepreneurs and build a compelling business on Facebook Platform. We hope this is also a funding model that other venture capitalists will follow."
An advisory council, with members including LinkedIn founder and chairman Reid Hoffman, First Round Capital founder Josh Koppelman, and Stanford University computer science professor Rajeev Motwani, will oversee the application and approval process. (Stanford, as you may recall from last week's news, has created an entire class based around the development of Facebook Platform applications, but Motwani does not appear to be affiliated with it.) No formal site has been created for FBFund, but interested applicants are now encouraged to mail their business plans to firstname.lastname@example.org.