Ex-Digg brainiac (by which we mean inventor and CEO) Kevin Rose has got a new baby: Milk. It's an idea incubator, specifically behaving like a development lab for "out there" ideas. It's targeting the mobile Net. And it's got some distinguishing features.
Rose only left Digg a few weeks ago, which suggests that he's had the mechanisms behind Milk in work for quite some time already. In fact, the roots of the project probably stretch back to the early days of Digg, because along with Rose, Milk will be supported by Daniel Burka--a key figure in Digg's design. And we can probably see even more elements of Milk's thinking in Rose's self-penned bio on his website: "My name is Kevin. I live in San Francisco where I climb rocks, drink tea and experiment on the internet. I'm a technology angel investor and the founder of Digg." Location in tech hotbed of San Francisco, Net technology, experimentation, entrepreneurship, and alternative thinking (tea? in America?)--it's all right there.
Milk's Twitter feed already has a couple of thousand followers, and its Facebook page has over 500 "likes" despite the fact it contains almost zero information about the company. Kevin's name carries a huge weight in the tech world, and people are intrigued about the new venture. Milk's webpage is even more enigmatic, noting "we build apps" and promising "early access and pleasantly infrequent updates by email, Twitter, and Facebook." To work out what the firm's doing, we turn to TechCrunch, which Rose himself just tweeted as containing "details about our new company."
Milk is an ideas lab for mobile web. The notion of an "incubator" is not necessarily original, but it does tap the booming meme of the mobile Net that's really only been taking off over the last three or four years. Unlike other incubators, which accept external ideas and develop them with expertise and small doses of cash, Milk is also an internal affair: It's intended to be cozy, tight, with a small group of organizers, thinkers, and coders coming together to use their own resources to some of the big problems the mobile Net faces. It won't spin out an armload of ideas regularly, it'll spin out "four to six big, audacious" ones a year, and its emphasis on unexpected thinking means Rose knows some of them will fail big time--but one or two may turn out to be black swans.
The company has investors already, and with its slightly left-field approach to idea incubation, it may successfully delineate itself from all the other Silicon Valley venture investment, angel cash, and tech start-up conventions. But will it fire out an idea as successful, money-earning, and Net-transforming as Digg? Let's hope they're drinking some very mind-expanding tea at those group-innovation meetings.