This wasn’t exactly a secret anymore, but Microsoft just officially unveiled its Bing Fund, a new angel fund and incubator program sponsored by Bing and “backed by the experience, expertise, and resources of Microsoft.” The idea here, says Microsoft, is to “partner with like-minded entrepreneurs—great talent that is innovating online to solve big problems and create amazing new experiences.” The fund is looking for startups that focus on mobile and web experiences and which provide “both inspirational vision” and the “ability to execute.”
Microsoft also recommends that the startups that plan to apply for this program already have a working prototype and a broad plan for how to tackle the problem they are trying to solve and what the market for their products looks like.
Startups 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 startups 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 startups, but the company says that “acquisition is always a possibility.”
Besides receiving funding, the startups that are accepted into this program will receive subsidies to use Bing’s APIs and also access to technologies developed by Microsoft Research. Microsoft also plans to provide these startups with mentors inside the company and promises that the IP and product will remain in the hands of the participating companies.
Startups that are located in Seattle will also be able to take advantage of co-workspace in Bellevue (a few miles away from the company’s main Redmond campus), where the Bing Fund team and Microsoft’s machine learning, search and data experts are located.
It’s worth noting that the Bing Fund does not require companies to use development stack, but it does encourage startups to participate in its BizSpark program, which gives companies that are less than three years old and make less than $1 million per year discounted access to its development tools. BizSpark already works with TechStars, by the way, to make $60,000 worth of Azure compute and storage services available to the companies in its Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure program.