Bay is a typical Silicon Valley venture firm, operating three large funds. AppFactory will draw resources from the latest, a $300 million pile of cash and commitments that Bay will funnel, in chunks as small as $25,000, to promising Facebook developers.
Unlike its larger and more traditional technology investments, Bay will not run its AppFactory candidates through weeks or months of due diligence. At the funding levels it's thinking about, it's not worth the effort. In part, "we'll rely on instinct," Bay's Salil Deshpande told me.
AppFactory will also offer Facebook developers easy access to people its connected with at supporting companies like Amazon, whose Amazon Web Services server farm can be employed to run Facebook apps. Bay also hopes its Appfactory developers will form a community and help each other out.
Bay's move is smart. There's no question that Facebook is a very important Web platform. While it's not like the Web itself, which is open to all comers and not controlled by any one company, one could compare the Facebook platform to eBay. It's a platform that's easy to build businesses on.
The exposure, of course, is that Facebook will not be run as a platform. "A lot of companies get it wrong," Desphande told me. "Facebook is just getting started. They are going to have to make the investment and behave properly." However, if Facebook gets it right--and indications are, so far, that it will--apps on the platform can take easy advantage of the built-in, interconnected user base.
If you're got a killer idea for a Facebook app, and skills to begin development on it, check out baypartners.com/appfactory and apply.