MySpace is planning to launch a startup incubator that would nurture the development of new web companies, presumably to feed its growing widget universe. "[MySpace CEO Chris] DeWolfe is nurturing another project that promises to help MySpace grow: an incubator that will form new companies and function like a start-up," writes Brian Stelter in today's paper. "The company, tentatively named Slingshot Labs, will be financed by the News Corporation but exist as a separate company. Mr. DeWolfe anticipates that it will nurture four or five consumer Web sites at a given time."According to the New York Times,
This is an interesting move for a company that has long had a love-hate relationship with the widgets that have profited off of its user base. In the past MySpace has been known for blocking access to widgets who tried to monetize their service or launched competing products to services MySpace offered internally. In the past two years, the company has blocked widget embeds from YouTube (which it unblocked after about a day), Stickam, Photobucket (which it ultimately bought), iMeem, Hooka, and others.
Recent moves have shown that MySpace is now far more open to widgets existing on their network. From launching the SpringWidgets widget engine, to planning a developer platform and joining OpenSocial, MySpace has shown increasing support for widgets and widget developers.
The "SlingShot Labs" idea elicits comparisons to Facebook's fbFund, which it announced last fall at the TechCrunch40 Conference. The fbFund is a grant program for developers working on applications for the Facebook platform.
One notable difference between the two is that MySpace has yet to launch their platform, nor is their participation in OpenSocial yet visible. And while Facebook encourages application makers to make money from their apps, MySpace's terms of service still includes language prohibiting the use of the site for commercial purposes without a partnership with the site.