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Venture capital firm doubles iPhone OS 'iFund' to $200 million


As both consumers and developers await the release of Apple's iPad on Saturday, Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers announced Wednesday that it is doubling its investment pool for software on Apple's App Store to $200 million.

The announcement is centered around the iPad, as more than 20 iFund-supported applications are currently under development for Apple's touchscreen device. The firm said Wednesday it believes the iPad "will lead the next wave of innovation in mobile computing."

Apple helped Kleiner Perkins establish the fund in 2008, which is used to provide early financial support for promising new companies using the iPhone OS software development kit. The venture capital outfit revealed that the original $100 million iFund is now fully committed across 14 companies, and iFund companies have been supported by an additional $330 million from follow-on investors.

"Welcome to the brave new post-PC era where a swoosh of fluidity replaces the traditional mouse-bound GUI, said KPCB Partner John Doerr. "A new, truly revolutionary platform is rare, and a prize for entrepreneurs. We expect all ventures to have an iPad strategy. We will fund many more ventures for iPad, and the iFund will accelerate their success."

The first run of funding reportedly found great success, with iFund ventures achieving more than $100 million of 2010 mobile revenue, more than 100 million aggregate mobile downloads, and 18 total titles reaching top-10 sales on the App Store.

Companies funded by the iFund include GOGII, which has seen 5.5 million users and 2 billion text messages sent in its textPlus application; ngmoco, which has games installed on over one-third of iPhone OS devices; and Shazam, which has attained 50 million worldwide users tagging over 2 million songs per day.

"We’re ecstatic to be doubling down on the iFund after two short years," said Matt Murphy, KPCB partner and leader of the iFund. "The success of the App Store and its impact on consumers has been 10 times faster and bigger than we expected. Kleiner Perkins and iFund companies have enjoyed an incredibly helpful and unwavering partner in Apple."

Earlier this month, an analysis of developers on the App Store found that one in five are startup companies, suggesting that Apple's platform for the iPhone, iPod touch and forthcoming iPad presents a level playing field.

Apple has pitched the launch of the iPad as a "whole new gold rush" for developers, as the device and its 9.7-inch screen will run existing App Store software as well as new applications designed specifically for the hardware and its larger touchscreen. First released in January, the iPhone 3.2 beta software development kit allows developers to create iPad-specific software.

The App Store has proven successful for a variety of companies, from upstart developers such as Tapulous, which earns nearly $1 million per month, to established companies like personal navigation provider TomTom, which recorded more than 100,000 sales of its GPS application for the iPhone. In January, Apple revealed that App Store downloads had topped 3 billion less than 18 months after it first opened.