After weeks of hints and Microsoft has finally taken the wraps off its Bing Fund, a new incubator for start-ups. The idea here, says Microsoft, is to “partner with like-minded entrepreneurs and great talent that is innovating online to solve big problems and create amazing new experiences.”
The Bing Fund will invest $50,000-$100,000 in early-stage start-ups, through standard convertible notes (loans that convert to equity at Microsoft’s option). Additionally, Microsoft will provide its start-up’s with four to eight months of advice, design and development help, discounted access to Microsoft’s Azure Data Marketplace APIs, and introductions to potential partners or customers.
The Bing fund is looking for start-ups that focus on mobile and web experiences and which provide “both inspirational vision” and the “ability to execute.
"We believe that combining the creativity and fresh insights of start-ups with Microsoft's expertise and tremendous reach creates a unique formula for driving the industry forward," Microsoft said.
In addition to funding, Microsoft will offer participants "subsidized" use of unique Bing APIs, plus access to "certain technology assets" developed by Microsoft Research. Program participants will also be able consult with technology experts and execs in Redmond.
Start-ups will be accepted on an on-going basis and the Bing Fund is also looking to partner with existing accelerators to find potential candidates for the new fund. The plan is to focus on just a few start-ups at a time and as companies graduate, new ones will be accepted to fill their spots. Microsoft doesn’t promise that it will acquire successful start-ups, but the company says that “acquisition is always a possibility.”
The success of accelerators like Y Combinator, 500 Startups, TechStars, and others have given rise to many regional and company-specific spinoffs. Microsoft, with its huge pools of talent and other resources, is in a good position to jump on this trend.
The Bing Fund is the brainchild of Rahul Sood, who joined Microsoft in January, 2011. Earlier, Sood was working for Hewlett-Packard, which had acquired his company VoodooPC, a boutique maker of high-end gaming computers in 2006.
April 22, 2013, 5:55 am UTC
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