Mobile video group Jesta Digital is interested in helping to usher in the next generation of consumer web and media applications, and is committing $15 million for the creation of a startup incubator to do so. The standalone unit, which is called Jesta Labs and is being announced Thursday, will be focused on cloud computing, social media and mobile web technologies.
Jesta Digital, formerly known as Fox Mobile Group before being sold by News Corp. late last year, is probably best known for its Bitbop app. Bitbop is a subscription-based streaming service that, like Hulu Plus, allows viewers to watch on-demand episodes of broadcast TV shows on their mobile phones.
Jesta Labs will operate as a standalone business and is designed to make investments and help usher in new products applications for the mobile, social and cloud markets. Jesta Digital Chief Product Officer Joe Bilman, who helped build the Bitbop service, will take the title of managing director for the Labs unit, and he will lead a full-time team of developers, product managers and marketing staff to assist in developing new applications.
For now, Jesta Labs is working on incubating three applications that were developed by employees within the company, with one of those applications expected to be announced over the coming weeks, and the rest coming soon. But Jesta Labs is looking to open that up to outside developers in the coming months, Bilman told me in a phone interview. He said Labs doesn’t expect to have plans for a formal application process, but it is actively looking for entrepreneurs and product-driven leaders to become a part of the group.
So what does a participant get, in addition to some financing? Bilman said that will vary by product and by team and what their needs are, but the idea is to take a product “from idea to public launch… and give it a chance to live and breathe.” Startups will be able to leverage Jesta Digital’s existing infrastructure and tech support, as well as its marketing reach and access to business development, carrier relations and content relations.