Contest could bring scheduling app Presdo to Facebook, MySpace and a Web site near you

Presdo, the online scheduling company created by LinkedIn co-founder Eric Ly, is looking to third-party developers to liberate Presdo from the company’s own Web site into social networks, blogs and beyond.

The Mountain View, Calif. startup has released an application programming interface (API) that allows developers to integrate Presdo into other Web sites through Facebook applications, WordPress plug-ins, Google Calendar Gadgets and more. To create a little more incentive, the company is holding a contest for the best Presdo integrations, with iPhone 3Gs offered as the prizes for the three best developers. Ly says Presdo is putting together a top-notch panel to choose the winners — Ben Metcalfe of Swordfish Corp., who advises MySpace on platform issues, has just been announced as the first judge.

So why does the world need another scheduling application, anyway? We were already skeptical two years ago, when a scheduling start-up called Timebridge raised funding for a similar tool. Well, Presdo is hardly the only company to focus on usability and simplicity, but it looks like the start-up has done a good job on those fronts — just type in short text description (“Sunday afternoon in the park with George”) and Presdo automatically populates an event description. With a few clicks you can invite others, suggest and counter-suggest times, then export the results to your calendar. That description may not be knock you off your feet, but the point is to make it the process as no-hassle as possible, so that it becomes a tempting alternative to the sometimes torturous process of shooting emails back-and-forth.

Since its launch in late April, Ly says Presdo has acquired “tens of thousands” of users virally. The next step seems obvious — rather than forcing users and potential users to come to the Presdo site, the new integrations could make it possible to use Presdo on services they’re already familiar with, building on social and professional connections they’ve already made. And by holding a contest, Presdo doesn’t have to limit itself to pursuing just one or two strategies. The real test will be on July 18, when the contest ends and Presdo sees what developers actually came up with.

The application is free, although Presdo plans to charge for premium services eventually.

The company is self-funded for now, because Ly says he wants Presdo to grow before taking on investors. In addition to co-founding professional networking site LinkedIn, Ly was recently named a venture partner at Wellington Partners. (It’s a two-day-per-month advisory gig, so Ly assures me that Presdo is still his life.)