There's been a shift in how Microsoft interacts with the market. Locating a headquarters in Silicon Valley was a first clue.
Now it's beginning to emerge that their relationships with investors and incubators means a lot more than brand presence. Real relationships are happening here.
Microsoft is being nimble in helping startups use Azure, for one thing, and the effort is a way of making sure there is a concentrated effort to boost the startup ecosystem:
"Right next door to the Microsoft R&D center, the company renovated a large shared space and cleared out a floor just for startups. The focus is to bring in companies to utilize the Azure cloud platform to help them scale and grow, which is a rocky proposition, especially in Israel. Along with the ten startups, there is a mentorship heavy program with forty of the top startup CEOs in Israel.
Remember, that Microsoft also invested in TechStars. And we are partnered with many other investors and incubators in the space. Microsoft BizSpark is making headway in making sure they are compatible with the startup
mentality and with the aims, goals and aspirations of what Startup America CEO Scott Case calls "the real American heroes."
Not Following a Trend, Shaping a Future
Two days ago, we announced our partnership with Startupbootcamp Amsterdam.
It's no secret why. If you look at the latest venture capital trends, investor confidence is up (borrowing this image from the Venture Beat article).
(Image courtesy, Venture Beat)
Along with investor confidence making a tick up, there's been an overall trend among VCs to build an ecosystem that ensures startup creation. Leading investors in the space who mentor, like the folks at TechStars, have realized that rather than wait for investment opportunities to present themselves, they are going to invent the pipeline.
Mentors like Fred Wilson are exceptionally capable at not only spotting trends before they surface, but in creating a systematic culture that surfaces smart ideas within the sphere of influence. I've been an avid fan of Wilson after following and commenting on
his blog, A/VC, for some time. He's a master at creating culture and zeitgeist, not by any direct influence, but by opening up platforms for people to express their views. All great startups come from conflicts, open views of open and closed systems,
and from interaction with other smart people.
The rise of the social web has led to this exponential growth in startup cultures, all over the world. Incubators are springing up all over the place. If you look at the Microsoft BizSpark blog, you will see a heavy emphasis on events, partners and
cultural moments. Wherever there is discussion and interest, there is a tie in to helping startups grow.