Kleiner Perkins said today that it will double the size of its iFund — capital dedicated specifically to companies developing for the iPhone and iPod touch — as it’s already spent its allocated $100 million in the two years since the fund was first formed. The announcement comes on the eve of Apple’s iPad launch, the SDK for which, in light of Kleiner’s close relationship with Apple, iFund recipients have had early access.
The iFund has backed 14 companies to date, three of them still in stealth, with more than 100 million mobile downloads among them. Four are profitable and together they expect to bring in some $100 million in revenue for 2010.
Kleiner partner John Doerr was effusive in his love for Apple, Steve Jobs and his visionary products. “I’ve touched it, I’ve held it, I’ve caressed it,” he said of the iPad. “I hope that I can sleep with it Saturday night. It feels like you’re touching the future.”
Doerr spoke of new opportunities to use the iPad for education and health care, alluding to future company and product launches in those spaces. He said he hoped tablet developers would make new iPad apps that proactively anticipate user needs and create “interpersonal surfaces and services.”
Meanwhile the existing iFund companies on display were much more oriented towards gaming, with a dash of communications. Pinger CEO Greg Woock spoke of iPad launches of existing iPhone games like Doodle Buddy; ngmoco CEO Neil Young previewed new iPad-first launches like Castlecraft, Charadium and Warpgate (which will cost slightly more than iPhone versions); and GOGII co-founder Zack Norman showed screenshots of an iPad version of his company’s integrated text-messaging platform. iFund companies will have 12 apps ready in time for the iPad launch this weekend.
While multiple presenters cautioned against dismissal of the iPad as a blown-up iPhone, the reality is those are a bunch of blown-up iPhone games. ngmoco’s Young said not to expect a ground-up innovated application specific to the iPad for another six months. But he added that six months wouldn’t be considered a long time for a breakthrough title on a living room gaming console — more like two years. And Young attested that the iPad represents an opportunity for a game-changing gaming experience where users can forget they are actually using a device.
Doerr said to expect new dedicated iPad apps from iFund stealth companies in five weeks’ time.
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