Facebook Breathes Life Into New Batch of Web Startups. Sigh.

As Newsweek’s Dan Lyons busily predicts a “long overdue correction” that’s sure to doom many of the ridiculous-sounding startups to emerge in recent years — Twitter, Tumblr, Publr, Chatterous, Posterous, Yammer, Streem, Pownce, Spoink, Ning, Digg, Loopt, Zoomr are some that cause Lyon to figuratively roll his eyes — Facebook is taking a very different tack. It’s throwing a lifeline to a fresh batch of Web startups.

Today, for the second time in its history, the company announced 25 recipients of $25,000 from fbFund — a $10 million grant program intended to seed-fund compelling, third-party Facebook applications. As part of the program,  the five recipients whose applications are voted most popular by Facebook users in November will go on to receive $225,000 awards in December.

It’s a nice bit of news in what’s becoming a torrent of grim proclamations. All the same, I wouldn’t count on any subsequent funding.

Herewith, the winners, along with some personal thoughts:

BarTab – Send a drink to a friend, with Facebook! BarTab allows users to send real drinks to each other for only $1. Drinks are redeemed through the user’s cell phone at partnered bars and restaurants.  (Sounds crazy, but coupons are insanely effective.)

Black Drumm -Black Drumm develops applications that helps users organize events with friends. Whether it is going to a local concert, or planning a trek on Kilimanjaro, the application seamlessly coordinates offline activities; no more chains of emails to sort through, or spreadsheets to maintain. (Seriously? How many times are we going to see a new event-organizing application?)

Bottle Rocket – Bottle Rocket helps users pick the perfect bottle of wine. Users can compare wines with friends on Facebook or on the Bottle Rocket iPhone application. Bottle Rocket then analyzes the wines users have liked with ratings from their friends to make informed recommendations. (Bleh.)

Check My Campus – Check My Campus makes the college search process easier, better and more fun. The application allows current college students to share photos and videos about life on their campuses, giving high schoolers an inside look at what real life is like at these different schools. (Finally, PG-rated versions of the college experience. I like it.)

Daikon – Daikon enables users to build powerful applications on the Facebook platform without writing a single line of code. Daikon produces applications that focus on increasing the enjoyment and productivity of the Facebook experience. (Simplicity is nice, though I’m not sure Facebook users are interested in creating their own apps at the site.)

Faithfeed – FaithFeed is an application where users can share about their journey of faith with friends. Through the application, users can share praises, prayer requests, resolutions and the details of what God is teaching them. Users can also keep each other accountable and support each other throughout the week. (Jesus is a friend of mine sort of thing? I don’t see FB getting the superreligious to join its flock.)

Good Call Sports LLC – Good Call Football is an app developed by Good Call Sports that allows users to predict each offensive play during a televised football game, in real time, and compete nationwide based on the accuracy of their predictions. (A true sports fan would probably be too busy calling an audible for more guacamole, though maybe the gaming/gamble-addicted crowd will dig it.) 

GroupCard – GroupCard lets users rally their friends to sign the same printable online card to celebrate any occasion. Each friend can add a message, upload photos or audio, and even make a gift contribution. GroupCard started at Stanford, and is already used by thousands of groups worldwide. (So personal! Perfect for the office weenie you’d rather say good-bye to electronically.)

HitGrab – MouseHunt, a HitGrab creation, is a game of epic proportions. Players are hunters, hired by the king to trap mice that infest his kingdom. For each mouse caught, users will find a reward, bringing them closer to being the best MouseHunter in the land. (No idea. This sounds incredibly nerdy to me, but so did Worlds of Warcraft.)

Kontagent – Kontagent is the leading viral analytics platform for social network application developers. Kontagent analytics provides deep social data visualization and analysis that delivers actionable insights delivered via a hosted, on-demand service. (Lots of these out there. Just remarking.)

Koofers – Koofers helps students create and share information that helps with classes. Users can share old tests, quizzes, and study guides; view current and past grade breakdown and average GPA for every class and professor; review professors and read ratings before signing up for new classes, and get help from other students in the same class. (This used to be called cheating. I think it could work. )

Newsbrane – Newsbrane recommends news stories and other online content to users based on their interests. Vote items up and down and Newsbrane learns the stories a user wants to see. (Um, who else thinks we needed yet another company doing this exact thing?)

Party Buzz – Party Buzz is your source of information for what’s happening offline amongst your friends. Check out your friend’s events, discuss weekend plans, and find the best parties. Bonus feature: for each event check the median age, guy-to-girl ratio, number of singles, and more! (Isn’t this the point of Facebook?)

Pongr – Pongr is a mobile price comparison service that lets you check prices online and at nearby stores. While shopping, users can share items with their Facebook friends. Pongr mobile apps, texting, and image recognition makes bargain shopping fun! (Sort of sounds like another form of Facebook’s ill-conceived Beacon application. I suppose if you’re in control of what purchases you show your friends, it might be interesting? Nah.)

ProfessionalProfile – Professional Profile leverages a user’s existing social connections into a professional network. (Not sure. The nice thing about Facebook is that it’s not LinkedIn. Then again, the nice thing about LinkedIn is that it has a more profitable business model.)

RealGifts – RealGifts is a social gifting application that allows users to send their friends real, tangible gifts in the mail, without needing to know their friends’ delivery address. (Is this somehow easier than just sending somebody something? Sounds like a gifting service for stalkers.)

Socialfly – Be twice the friend in half the time! Socialfly lets users write their own notes about people, set reminders to talk to friends, and plan fun activities together. Socialfly will soon be available on both Facebook and the iPhone. (Is it that difficult to make and maintain friendships with people?)

Teach the People – Teach the People is an open educational platform. Teachers get the tools to share their expertise, allowing their knowledge to go viral, attract an audience, and be monetized effectively. Students get access to high quality, low cost education in Facebook’s social environment. (Anything educational and that benefits teachers sounds great.)

The Game Creators – The Game Creators built Social Arcade, an application which users get creative and design their own game from shoot-’em-ups to platformers to racing games and more. Users can give friends the gift of a game and even personalize it.  (I’m not convinced most people want to design their own games. We’re a very lazy bunch when it comes down it.)

TrailBehind – TrailBehind helps users find great places to hike. Avid hikers can explore maps, plan trips, log their travels, and work together to build better maps of the outdoors. (Sure, why not?)

Twenty20 Cricket – Twenty20 Cricket was created for cricket fanatics around the world to connect and share their passion via an exciting online cricket manager game. Users compete to be the best team by training their players, and then challenging their friends and other team managers! (Sort of like a Football Fantasy for cricket players? I guess it’s interesting.)

vDream Racing – vDream would be Henry Ford’s favorite application on Facebook. vDream offers users access to real cars, real parts, real performance specs, and the ability to connect and compete with other car enthusiasts. (Diehard gearheads on Facebook? That’s actually pretty funny. Good one.)

WedSnap – WedSnap created Weddingbook, a social network on Facebook for those preparing for a wedding. Brides and grooms meet on Weddingbook to get advice, support, and inspiration during their engagement and wedding planning process. (Probably not a bad use of Facebook.)

Wildfire – Wildfire enables consumers to discover, share and engage with interactive promotions like contests, sweepstakes and give-aways and enables companies to easily create their own attractive, branded promotions that are automatically integrated with Facebook’s social features. (People would “engage” to get free stuff. Not the audience advertisers really want, as they learned via the original AllAdvantage.com. IMHO.)