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Thursday, March 06, 2008, 02:05 pm PT (05:05 pm ET)

Apple helps launch $100 million iFund venture capital pool

Apple has revealed that a major venture capitalist firm is making $100 million available to entrepreneurs looking to jumpstart businesses based on the iPhone and iPod touch.

Launched by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) at Apple's iPhone Software Roadmap event, the money is placed into a collective pool known as the iFund, which will be used to provide early financial support for promising new companies using the software development kit to create software for Apple's handhelds.

Most of the investment will go to teams developing location-based services, mobile commerce, social networks, and other communication or entertainment add-ons for the mobile version of Mac OS X.

KPCB doesn't say whether it has established a particular system for distributing the money, but says it will invest venture capital to help the companies become completely independent. It also plans to lend its experience in both building startups as well as networking the young companies with partners they may need to expand.

The finances will be distributed chiefly by KPCB venture capitalist Matt Murphy as well as several other notable investors, including former Intel marketer and current Google board member John Doerr. To him, the SDK is an unusual chance to invest in a new and potentially successful category.

"A revolutionary new platform is a rare and prized opportunity for entrepreneurs, and that's exactly what Apple has created," Doerr says. "We think several significant new companies will emerge as this new platform evolves."

More news from today's Apple event

Apple's iPhone takes on the Enterprise
Apple posts iPhone Software Roadmap event stream
Coming to iPhone: Instant Messenger, EA's Spore, SEGA games
Apple announces iPhone 2.0 software and SDK beta
Notes from Apple's iPhone Software Roadmap event