Facebook Woos Investors And Developers With fbStart

Facebook launched an initiative aimed at giving third-party developers included in the portfolios of seed funds advanced notice of new tools and features, with the aim of encouraging those developers to build their businesses around the social network.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the fbStart program has signed up early stage business-investment groups including Seedcamp, sFund, 500 Startups, TechStars, and Y Combinator.

In its initial public offering filing earlier this month, details were included on Facebook-centric developers including Zynga, BranchOut, and Color Labs.

TechStars Founder and Chief Executive David Cohen (no relatiton to yours truly) told the Journal that about one-half of the fund’s 80 active developers will take advantage of fbStart to various degrees, adding:

We’ve been asking Facebook for ways to get better access and advance information for our companies, and this is their way of doing that.

And Christine Tsai, a partner in 500 Startups, told the newspaper most of the 70 companies under its umbrella use Facebook to some extent, adding that fbStart benefits Facebook by allowing it to see how developers are using its new tools, and saying:

They’re putting a lot more manpower behind working with us in a more formal way.

The Journal cited a September study by the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, which found that U.S.-based developers of Facebook applications accounted for 182,744 full-time jobs in 2011

The author of the study, Associate Professor of Information Systems Siva Visawanathan, told the newspaper:

Traditionally, the model has been to keep your platform closed from competitors, but people are realizing that opening it up can be a big advantage, because more apps and services attracts more users.

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