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Microsoft Ventures launches to lure startup founders away from their MacBooks

Microsoft Ventures launches to lure startup founders away from their MacBooks

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Microsoft said today it would bring several of its venture capital programs under one banner, with a special interest in enterprise software. VoodooPC founder Rahul Sood, who joined the company in 2010, will lead the effort, to be called Microsoft Ventures. It's an effort to seed the startup world with Microsoft products at a time when many young founders are more likely to be found coding on Apple hardware.

The venture project comprises of three parts. Microsoft Ventures Community is aimed at entrepreneurs just starting out; it includes the BizSpark program, which offers free and reduced-cost access to Microsoft software and services, and local partnerships with about 200 startup programs and accelerators around the world. Microsoft Ventures Accelerators is a full-fledged accelerator, giving entrepreneurs with more established ideas three to six months to develop their idea in eight locations globally.

A focus on business and big data

Finally, Microsoft is "evolving" its Bing Fund into a seed funding program administered through Microsoft Ventures. Microsoft said the program, which provides direct funding to entrepreneurs, will be geared at startups focused on enterprise software, big data, security, artificial intelligence, advertising, gaming, and cloud services.

Sood, who was hired as Microsoft's general manager for system experience, pitched Microsoft on creating the Bing Fund and has run it since it launched last year. By unifying the efforts, Microsoft said it hopes to give entrepreneurs a single point of contact. "Startups have enough to worry about," Sood said in a blog post. "We want to make access to us as intuitive and friction-free as possible."