Microsoft recently launched its Bing Fund, but it may face a challenge attracting entrepreneurs to the incubator program given media reports portraying the Redmond giant as a bureaucratic, moribund mess.
Vanity Fair, for example, characterized the company as having made “astonishingly foolish management decisions” in a recent article and, of course, Microsoft has to overcome its long-standing nickname of Borg to lure entrepreneurs.
Sponsored by Bing, the angel fund is “backed by the experience, expertise, and resources of Microsoft,” the company gushes. It says it wants to partner with “great talent that is innovating online to solve big problems and create amazing new experiences.”
Microsoft is looking for:
- Startups that are building online or mobile experiences that incorporate fresh insights.
- Startups with both inspirational vision and the ability to execute.
- A working prototype, preferably a site or application that is already live (i.e. people can sign up to use it) and gaining momentum.
- A compelling plan that describes the problem being solved, a general idea of the market potential/competitive landscape, and unique market advantages.
Once a company is accepted, it will receive subsidized use of APIs from Bing’s data ecosystem and the opportunity to access Microsoft Research’s technology assets. Microsoft experts will be available for consultation but rest assured, Microsoft says, “Your IP and product, of course, remain yours, even if we give input and assistance.”
Of course, entrepreneurs with a working prototype that’s gaining momentum may attract just as much interest from traditional angels and VCs. So the question is: Does Microsoft have the DNA to be a successful angel investor?
Tell us what you think in the comments below.
- Bing Seeks to Drive Innovation with Bing Fund [Microsoft Blog]
- Microsoft’s Downfall: Inside the Executive E-mails and Cannibalistic Culture that Felled a Tech Giant [Vanity Fair]
- The Bing Fund [Microsoft]