It’s not an incubator. It’s not an accelerator. It’s something else. What is it? It’s a motor that can help power companies at any stage of their development – conception, startup, growth.
It’s the brainchild of former Myspace Chief Executive Mike Jones. In the follow-up to his turnaround effort at the once-dominant social networking giant, he’s putting his twist on the incubator model with a company called Science Inc. that launched last week.
The Santa Monica technology studio will develop new businesses much the way an incubator might. It will also provide mentorship and funding to already established startups similar to an accelerator. And it will invest in and guide struggling, later-stage companies.
Jones describes Science’s model as similar to that of a movie studio, which both develops projects in-house and invests in outside ventures.
Los Angeles may be seeing a rash of accelerators that help startups through their first few months, but Jones said that still leaves a void. He thinks the community is lacking a resource for companies as they mature.
“It’s really difficult for early stage startups,” Jones said. “There are a slew of accelerator programs that are great, but they don’t take them through the whole life cycle.”
Science – Jones picked the name because he’ll employ a systematic method to invest in and develop the companies – has not announced which companies it will add to its portfolio. Jones said he’s most interested in businesses that combine content and commerce, leverage social media and are working in the mobile space.
Science has received funding from a number of investors, including Rustic Canyon and Siemer Ventures in Santa Monica, and Jonathan Miller, chief digital officer of News Corp.
Jones is a respected L.A. entrepreneur and tech investor who was tapped in 2010 to help beleaguered Myspace make a turnaround. But the social network failed to rebound, so parent company News Corp. sold it to Specific Media in Irvine for $35 million in June.
Jones helped the company through its transition and exited in September. He considered taking another executive role or becoming an investor with a private-equity firm. But his background investing in startups and sitting on the boards of many L.A. companies led him to launch Science instead.
“I thought it played more to my strengths than being a pure investor,” he said.
To get the company running, Jones brought in Myspace veterans Tom Dare, Mike Macadaan and Ryan Sit. He said their experience with the challenges of Myspace will help them guide the companies in Science’s portfolio.
“There’s no doubt that we learned a lot of lessons there,” he said. “It helps us know how to build and scale these businesses and how to deal with larger-scale assets.”
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