Silicon Valley investor Matt Murphy is out to find the next great opportunity in mobile consumer technology. And he has $200 million at his disposal to pay for it.
Murphy is the managing partner of the iFund, an investment capital fund devoted to apps for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad at venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers. Murphy spends each day scouring the Internet, networking and keeping his radar on alert for any cool new app that just might do for mobile what Google and Amazon (two earlier Kleiner investments) have done for the Web.
Launched in March 2008, the iFund’s success so far is “way beyond” original projections, Murphy says.
There are 14 companies in the portfolio, including Flipboard, the “social magazine” for the iPad, and Shopkick, an app that offers up instant discounts when you walk into retailers including Best Buy and Macy’s. Five companies in the fund are profitable, Murphy says, and total revenue generated so far in 2010 exceeds $100 million. That figure does not include the iFund’s Zynga, maker of the game FarmVille, which generates most of its revenue from Facebook. (The iFund invested in Zynga for mobile.)
“The iFund was started to say, ‘There’s this new platform in mobile, and it’s going to be a really big deal,’ ” Murphy says. “There’s a ready-made financial ecosystem, and we’re convinced we’ll make a lot of money from it.”
None of his companies has hit the jackpot in terms of a big buyout by a bigger company, often the goal for start-ups and their investors. But Disney’s recent purchase of appmaker Tapulous for an undisclosed sum is proof that big firms have their eyes on mobile, Murphy says.
“I’d be surprised if we don’t sell one in the next few months,” he says. “At the same time, if you project…