Microsoft’s Bing brand is not just about search anymore. It seems Microsoft is on the verge of launching a new startup incubator and angel investment fund, which the company is calling the Bing Fund.
New Investment in Investing
Although Microsoft has released no official statement, it appears the company is creating a new incubator that will work with technology-focused startups and accelerators. Microsoft created a placeholder web page, BingFund.com, and began sending tweets hinting about the new venture. Former Xbox General Manager Rahul Sood will lead the new group according to his LinkedIn profile, which he updated in March to reflect the new title, General Manager / Partner, Bing Fund.
Microsoft is in the process of staffing the new unit. Postings on Microsoft’s career site list requirements for a Creative Director and a Senior Programmer. The postings reveal the Bing Fund will focus on startups working on the web, desktop, mobile and console that leverage Microsoft’s technology stack or other popular technologies like Ruby on Rails, PHP, Amazon Web Services or Google App Engine. The postings also indicate that Microsoft plans to keep the group small.
It is unclear exactly how the new fund will tie to Microsoft’s online service division beyond the technology focus. The division hasn’t really been a strong point for Microsoft lately. Microsoft had to write-down US$ 6.2 billion due to the acquisition of aQuantive.
What’s in it for Microsoft
Microsoft isn’t the only major technology company that invests in startups. IBM’s IBM Global Entrepreneur program provides free software for three years, mentoring and technical enablement to startups. Citrix began a new startup accelerator in December 2010 that provides early stage startups up to US$ 250,000 in seed capital, office space for over a year, access to partners, customers, staff and technology and help with future funding. Dell also recently kicked off a new program for startups that helps companies finance technology purchases from Dell.
Microsoft hasn’t revealed details how its startup will work or its goals. However, funding startups could benefit the company long term. Startups that become successful may become loyal Microsoft customers and partners. They can also become future acquisition targets. We will be watching to see what happens with Bing Fund and keep you updated.