Microsoft’s BizSpark Program, In First 30 Days, Reaches Thousands of Startups, Developers

12/9/08Follow @gthuang

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with regards to their ‘development’ competitors (IBM, Google, Amazon, Ruby, etc.) because of the anti-trust lawsuit of the late ’90s. They have a lot of settlement agreements to abide by, which, at some level, doesn’t allow them to offer free software. In my view, that’s very unfair to Microsoft.”

As for how Microsoft is doing in entrepreneur-land, Calbucci is pretty blunt. “I still think they have some catch-up to do on the startup community,” he says. “My guess is that just 1 in 5 startups in Seattle are using Microsoft technology and if startups are representative of the future of tech, that’s a tough position for Microsoft to be in. They definitely should invest more on getting out there and reaching the startups.”

To that end, Reeves works more broadly as part of the Emerging Business Team at Microsoft, which has offices in Redmond, Silicon Valley, Denver, and Boston, as well as staff in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Eastern Europe, and China. Its goal is to find interesting new companies and help them along. “We see ourselves as part of the local software economy,” Reeves says. “The work we do with education and jobs is very specific to local organizations. We can give what Microsoft has, and that’s technology…We find the very, very best companies we can. We think we can make a difference.”

I asked Reeves whether his team helps Microsoft find interesting companies to acquire. “Our interests are aligned,” he says. “Product groups come to us. It’s because that stream of information informs you, helps you stay in touch.” More broadly, I wondered about the role of the Emerging Business Team in helping Microsoft innovate (versus Microsoft Research, say). “We’re a piece of the story,” he replies. “Being in touch with these communities is important—we give a damn, and we have something to contribute. We’re not corporate intelligence. Our goal is to find great companies. New developers are the key to everything. We’re trying to find, help, and understand the people doing new stuff. It helps Microsoft.”

“New stuff is energizing,” says Reeves. “It’s the future.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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