If you use an iPhone or an Android-based mobile phone you probably are using an app that Matt Murphy has invested in. Who is he? He’s the managing partner of the iFund at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Yesterday they celebrated the third anniversary of the fund. His team has seen 5,000 pitches and funded 25, including companies like Flipboard, Shopkick, Pelago, ngmoco, etc. In 2010 fund companies had 100 million downloads. Techcrunch has other stats they shared with the press yesterday.
But why should users care? Because what Matt and his team invests in decides whether platforms rise or falls.
Some things he shared in an interview (you can listen to the entire thing) with the press (Reuters, Wall Street Journal, AllThingsD, and other journalistic organizations were in the room asking questions) are:
1. They aren’t likely to start an Android-focused fund anytime soon. He says that their companies are mostly on both iOS and Android, but that iOS is monetizing 5-10x more than Android (and Android is monetizing MUCH more than the other platforms). “If you’re an app that’s heavy on the monetization side you want to go where the monetization is,” explaining why he’s still so bullish on iOS.
2. There’s one company in the fund that was Android only. That’s Work Smart Labs, which has six million users on Android (coming next week to iOS) and I have a separate interview with co-founder Artem Petakov.
3. They aren’t investing in app discovery companies like Chomp. “I worry that those aren’t a good experience…Discovery should be a lot simpler than that.” Hint: he sees Apple improving the app store a lot soon and he’s counting on viral mechanisms that Twitter and Facebook integration will supply later this year.
4. Does he know something about Facebook that we don’t? He kept talking about Facebook integration into iOS.
5. He doesn’t believe yet in Windows Phone 7 and the fund’s companies are mostly taking a “wait and see” approach. That said, one of my favorite iOS apps, Foodspotting, just shipped a WP7 app today. You can be sure that Matt will watch their results closely and may update his stance within a few months.
So, what does this mean for users? Well, Matt is continuing to fund innovative companies. KPCB team members told me off camera that they are seeing the same things I am: that most of the great apps are being built on iOS first, then ported to Android.
Some challenges that the companies are talking about are that many users aren’t loading many apps, and they are working to build viral mechanisms into apps so that users on Twitter and Facebook feel impelled to download those apps and join in (let’s just call that the Instagram model of getting users). They also are looking forward to further integration with Apple TV in the future (Cooliris is one of the companies they funded and its CEO told me last night that they are really diving deeply into iOS 5 and are excited by some of the AirPlay features (which let you shove any kind of media over to other devices, mostly Apple TV right now).
Anyway, it’s not everyday you get to hear from someone who has such a big impact on the mobile market. Glad I could share it with you.