Facebook kicks off developer funding competition

The company's FBFund grant program has never been one of its most publicity-friendly projects, but a new contest that will give away $10 million total may change that.

Developers, start your engines: submissions are now open for the developer application contest that Facebook created for its FBFund grant program. Winning developers, who submit business plans for their prototypical Facebook Platform applications, will receive between $25,000 and $250,000 in grant money. The company plans to give away $10 million total.

The contest was originally detailed at this year's F8 conference, in which the 10 original FBFund selectees were also unveiled.

Monday saw the kickoff of the competition's Round 1, in which 25 winning proposals announced on September 22 will each be awarded $25,000. The winners of that round will have the option to apply for Round 2, in which five final winners will receive $250,000 to fund the development of their Facebook applications. Winners will also have access to "mentorship" from Facebook as well as a boost in publicity and marketing resources.

Facebook is drawing developer attention to its platform at a crucial time: first, it's expanded its API to the Facebook Connect initiative; and second, it's now competing for geek attention not only with rival social-networking platforms but also with Apple's iPhone, the hot platform du jour.

Additionally, FBFund has heretofore flown under the radar, unusual for something that has come out of a publicity magnet like Facebook--and some of the moderate press it's gotten has been fairly negative. Throwing a contest is probably a decent way to drum up some attention.

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