Facebook announced it will pay out $2 million to winners of its second fbFund developers' competition. 25 first-round winners will get $25,000 each, and five second-round winners will win $250,000. The money comes as a grant, not an investment, with the only stipulation being that Facebook backers Accel and Peter Thiel's Founders Fund get the right of first refusal for any investment rounds in the future.Last fall, Microsoft paid $240 million for 1.6 percent of Facebook, along with an advertising deal. That wasn't because it was a popular social network, but because the tech press was talking up Facebook as a platform for social applications — a Windows for widgets. Facebook's platform has fallen far short of that promise. The successful apps widgetmakers created in the first year of the platform's existence succeeded through spammy viral tactics, not by being particularly useful or fun for Facebook users. Social-games maker Zynga, for example, makes its games easier to win for users who invite their friends to play. Facebook began changing its platform rules to discourage such tactics in January. This summer, it brought out the stick, suspending popular applications like Top Friends for violations. Now comes the carrot, in the form of the fbFund. To taste Facebook's cash, developers must meet a specific set of criteria from Facebook. We've translated them from PR-speak below. Facebook's criteria:
- Originality of Concept: Does the application introduce a great idea in a new and unexplored area?
- Market: Is this application targeted to key audiences or meet compelling market needs?
- Social/Useful: Does the application enable people to interact with each other? Does it deliver real value to users (including entertainment)?
- Expressive: Does the application allow people to share more information?
- Intuitive: Is the application compelling and easy to use? Does it have a well-thought-out user experience?
- Potential: Can it be a real business someday?
- Team: Do you believe this team can execute and is driven to succeed?
Facebook's criteria, translated:
- Originality of Concept: Does the application do more than bring a ripoff of a popular MySpace feature to Facebook? You know, the kind we can have an intern copy between yawns?
- Market: Would you use the app if it weren't created by you?
- Social/Useful: No really, would you?
- Expressive: Does the application allow people to share more information? Will it advance peace talks in the Middle East?
- Intuitive: Is the application easy to use? For a drunk frat boy at UCLA?
- Potential: Can it be a real business someday? Do you know what a real business is?
- Team: Do you believe this team can execute or do you we need to execute your team?
(Photo by Bill in Ash Vegas)