Software giant Microsoft today launched an angel investment and business incubator. It will be called the Bing Fund, named, obviously, for its search engine.
The plan is to offer U.S.-based early-stage companies an opportunity to work at a Microsoft building in Bellevue, Wash., for at least four months. In addition to an investment, the selected start-up will get access to a lot of Microsoft technology. Here’s the gist from Microsoft’s announcement:
As a startup in Bing Fund, you will receive subsidized usage of unique APIs from Bing’s data ecosystem and the opportunity to access certain technology assets developed by Microsoft Research. Bing Fund team members who specialize in design, engineering, marketing, and building businesses will be on hand to support every step of the way, and if you have a particular technical or business challenge, we’ll connect you with the right Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). Additionally, we’ll help with funding, by offering a convertible note and making introductions to strategic investors. Your IP and product, of course, remain yours, even if we give input and assistance.
The other big news is that Rahul Sood, the founder of VooDooPC, the small Canadian maker of super-tricked-out gaming PCs, is joining Microsoft specifically to work at the Bing Fund. Sood announced the move on his personal blog today:
Raising money is easy — the amount of time and energy we’re going to dedicate to each startup in our program is worth more than any dollar amount we could throw at them, which is why we’re choosing to incubate fewer than a dozen startups at a time. When one graduates we’ll take on another.
So now I’m working as an entrepreneur inside a company that has tremendous resources and impact. We get the best of both worlds. Our program is tapping the creative energy of startups, small and agile risk takers and we’re backing that creative energy with the vast experience Microsoft employees have in design, technology development, and business strategy. Many great things will happen.
Sood sold VooDooPC to Hewlett-Packard around the time that other small gaming PC outfits were being acquired. Another similar deal that comes to mind is Dell’s purchase of Alienware. Sood stayed on at HP as CTO of global gaming, and also served as something of an evangelist for webOS after HP’s acquisition of Palm, until he resigned suddenly late in 2010. He later explained why: He realized that HP “wasn’t the right place for me.” It will be interesting to see if Sood can be happy inside another big company.