Over the years, Microsoft has steered clear of the corporate venture capital arms found at companies such as Intel and Google. But could that be changing with the formation of the Bing Fund?
Mary Jo Foley recently spotted a Twitter account and home page for the entity, and reported that the Bing Fund is now being led by VoodooPC founder Rahul Sood, a former general manager in Microsoft’s Xbox business.
“I recently transitioned from Xbox to create a new program designed for entrepreneurs & startups in BING…quite simply an opportunity I couldn’t pass up — and I’ll be able to share more details later,” Sood notes on his LinkedIn page.
Meanwhile, Foley digs up this job post which has more details about what’s happening at the Bing Fund. The position is based in Bellevue.
“Bing Fund, an Angel Incubator working with startups and accelerators to bring a wave of innovation to OSD, is looking for a visionary designer to enable startups build beautiful experiences,” the job posts says. “The Bing Fund portfolio includes startups working on the web, desktop, mobile and console. Because of the pace and variety of Bing Fund startups, the type of work can vary hugely. We are looking for the whole package: someone who can go from a concept – articulating the high level concept – to driving the experience from incubation through to creation of production assets.”
Some in the Seattle startup community have argued that Microsoft could help spark more innovation by getting more engaged with startups, something it has done on a global scale via programs such as BizSpark. But those efforts don’t involve an equity investment.
It’s unclear whether Microsoft would actually take small ownership stakes in the companies via the Bing Fund, or simply try to get them under the Microsoft umbrella, using the company’s technologies.
As I noted previously, Microsoft has been reluctant to play the traditional venture capital role as evidenced in its involvement in programs such as its Kinect and Azure accelerators, which launched this year in partnership with TechStars. In those programs, Microsoft offers support and mentorship, but does not take equity.
We’ve reached out to Microsoft for more details, and we’ll update this post as we learn more.