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Facebook announces 25 developer grant finalists

They now have a chance to apply for $225,000 in grant money in the FBFund developer competition's final round--but only if they successfully build the apps first.

Facebook has announced the 25 finalists for its second annual FBFund developer grant competition, and it now invites them to reapply for a chance at an additional $225,000 in the final round. The five winners of the second round will be announced in December.

Each first-round finalist is entitled to $25,000 from the seed fund, which began with $10 million from Facebook investors Accel Partners and the Founders Fund. About 600 developers, none of whom had received any existing funding for their app prototypes, had applied for the first round.

For the most part, the winning applications haven't debuted on Facebook's platform yet. But they'll have to before getting a shot at one of the five second-round grants. Then Facebook's users will get to have their say.

"These 25 companies will release out their app, users will get a chance to play around with them, as well as watch a one- to two-minute video clip of what the app is about, and vote for their favorites," Cat Lee, the FBFund product manager, said in an interview with CNET News.

The finalists? They range from BarTab, in which Facebook members gift real drinks to their friends; to TrailBehind, an app for sharing hiking routes and tips; to Newsbrane, which recommends news stories. Their creators range from professional programmers to a comparative-literature Ph.D. student, coming from across the United States, as well as Canada and the United Kingdom (the only three countries eligible for FBFund). For developers outside those three countries, Facebook has announced developer competitions in Germany, France, and Spain, but on a smaller scale.

In addition to the grant money, FBFund finalists will also have access to advisory resources from Facebook and FBFund's supporters, who include LinkedIn Chairman Reid Hoffman and Stanford University professor Rajeev Motwani.

Elliot Schrage, Facebook's head of global communications and public policy, said Facebook isn't concerned about the stability of a seed fund at a time when the credit crunch and subsequent financial crisis have dealt a blow to the venture capital sector.

"The great thing is, we have a $10 million commitment from Founders Fund and Accel, we've been in pretty close contact with them because they were intimately involved in selecting these 25 first-round recipients, and they've made clear to us that they think this is a great investment not only in the developers themselves but in Facebook Platform and in Facebook," Schrage told CNET News. "So I actually think this is a significant opportunity for us in this climate to create some real incentives for people to develop on Facebook Platform."

The $25,000 will be given to each finalist to build the application in question, but after that, winners of the $225,000 grant will have to prove that they're actually putting it to good use.

"That $250,000 grant (the $25,000 plus $225,000) is given in payments based on milestones, and those milestones are tied to engagement within Facebook," Lee said.

"If one of these 25 has an application that ends up failing or crashing, you can be pretty sure it won't be one of the top five," Schrage said.

So here's who's getting a chunk of that $625,000:

-- BarTab, in which you send virtual gift certificates for drinks to your friends
-- Black Drumm, a social-event planner
-- Bottle Rocket, a wine-picking and comparison tool
-- Check My Campus, a college search and review application
-- Daikon, an application builder
-- FaithFeed, an app for sharing personal religious beliefs and prayer requests
-- Good Call Sports, for predicting the play-by-play in major sports games
-- GroupCard, printable online cards signed by groups of friends
-- HitGrab, manufacturer of a game in which players hunt mice
-- Kontagent, an analytics tool for social-network applications
-- Koofers, an academic reference for course information sharing
-- Newsbrane, a sort of mini-Digg, with recommendations
-- Party Buzz, to find out what your friends are doing and where they're going
-- Pongr, a price comparison tool
-- ProfessionalProfile, which seems to bring a bit of LinkedIn to Facebook
-- RealGifts, a commerce app to send presents to your friends
-- Socialfly, an activity planner and reminder system
-- Teach The People, an "open educational platform"
-- The Game Creators, a way to build your own Facebook game
-- TrailBehind, an app for sharing hiking trail information
-- Twenty20 Cricket, a resource for cricket fans (the sport, not the bug)
-- vDream Racing, which appears to be something like fantasy sports for car freaks
-- WedSnap, creator of the Weddingbook wedding-planning app
-- Wildfire, a promotion and marketing campaign generator