We've blogged before about Facebook's platform aspirations, a goal seemingly advanced by its purchase of Parakey, a Web-based operating system created by two co-founders of Firefox.
Facebook earlier this year also opened the site to outside Web developers from companies such as Amazon.com and Microsoft. As Facebook COO Owen Van Natta describes it in a Forbes article, Facebook will encourage outside developers even at the risk of decreased popularity for existing Facebook applications. "Developers won't be second-class citizens -- we're going to compete directly with them," he says.
Now Facebook is putting its money where its mouth is by creating a program that will provide financial incentives for developers to create Facebook apps. The FBFund will use an initial $10 million of capital to dispense grants of up to $250,000 for developers.
There appear to be fewer financial strings attached than with traditional venture funding, since developers won't be required to give up any equity or assume other debt, notes a CNET blog. But only developers with no prior formal venture funding are eligible for the program.
Facebook has been considerably friendlier to outside developers than rival MySpace, which has been known to block access to popular widgets created by third parties. An executive of at least one startup, RealEditor.com, tells Forbes that MySpace simply duplicated a popular feature from its site after the company declined to create an app for MySpace.