sFund and the challenges of the Social Web

Intense discussions about the new era of Social in web and mobile have been all over the place this week. Those discussions are, rightfully, getting tons of media traction.

It started with the announcement of the new sFund from VC Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, who joined hands with Facebook, Amazon.com, and Zynga to announce a new $250 million fund for social networking startup (You can read more about that here: http://www.businessinsider.com/live-facebook-to-announce-new-vc-fund-2010-10#ixzz13DmAQGTd).

The new fund met with some criticism led by Chris Dixon, a leading angel investor, who kept shredding Kleiner Perkins initiative on twitter (you can see his tweets here: http://twitter.com/#!/cdixon). Chris basically suggests that Kleiner’s dedicated social startup fund is late to the party.

Thinking about Chris Dixon’s response and the opportunities out there I can’t help but wonder that:

  • Nobody has yet to figure out how to successfully use Social Media for e-commerce. It’s clear that this is one of the Holy Grails of Social, yet no disruptive solution or technology has showed up.  Not only have we not seen the first generation of successful Social solutions for e-commerce, we aren’t even seeing beta solutions that deliver solid value.
    Unlike Brand Marketers, online retailers want performance based solutions and are willing to pay handsomely for leads that convert into paying customers.
  • Social Network brand marketing tools have made a huge leap forward in the last year, but there are many optimization challenges ahead. This space is young and growing and we will surely see more disruptive technologies that would grab more advertisers’ dollars.

Chris surely recognizes that those opportunities are out there. True, Social is not all new and it’s already here, big time, but the industry is still pretty young and will probably see a lot of game changing products in the future.
Unfortunately, it took a long time for players in the industry to understand where there are headed to and what works best, but now as some of the key concepts are unveiled it’s officially the first round of the new web – the social web. Round 2 and maybe 3 are probably around the corner and it seems that there are many opportunities out there for entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

I would bet a small amount of my money on Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers new sFund. Would you do the same?

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