Brad Feld

Tag: microsoft

The first cycle of The Microsoft Accelerator, powered by TechStars, is in its final run up to demo day. The first program has focused on Kinect applications and has some super teams, such as Gestsure (they control operating rooms with motion control) and Ubi (they turn any surface into a touch screen.)

Demo Day is in Seattle on June 28th. If you are an investor (angel or VC), send me an email and I’ll get you an invitation.

TechStars and Microsoft have been so pleased with the program that a second cycle of the Microsoft Accelerator in Seattle has been added focusing on cloud-based applications.  The applications are open now through July 13. Each company gets $20k in funding, mentorship from top entrepreneurs, investors and Microsoft executives, $60K in Azure credit, office space, training and support, and demo day to pitch to investors, media, and industry influentials.

As you may know Microsoft has really made some awesome improvements to Windows Azure. Most notably it’s much more open source focused. Want to run Linux? No problem. Python? No problem as Microsoft has embraced open source with this update of Windows Azure. While you need not be using Azure to apply to the Microsoft Accelerator, if you’re playing in the Microsoft ecosystem at all I’d really encourage you to take a look at the latest news about Windows Azure.

If you are an entrepreneur working on something cloud computing related, especially in the Microsoft ecosystem, consider applying to the Microsoft Accelerator today.

I noticed something when I tried out two apps (Mingly and Cobook) this morning – they each immediately asked to connect me to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter during their onboarding process. And, by using my Gmail as the starting point / authentication, they connected me to G+.

Microsoft is conspicuously absent from this. I’ve noticed this many times in the past but when you onboard yourself in two contact-related apps in the same morning and there is no Microsoft anywhere, there’s something going on that’s important. I wonder if this will change with Office 365 – I hope Microsoft is building a trivial to use oauth to O365 so it’s easy to connect to, along with a good sync API.

I was trying to think of other authentication that would be helpful to me in the context of my contacts. Almost everything else I use is based on either my email address or auth with one of these four services. Hmmm.

So far Mingly feels basically the same as Gist but Cobook seems different than anything I’ve used. I have no idea if I’ll keep using either of these, but like many things in the themes we invest in, I love to play around with new apps for a while and see if it sticks.

As someone obsessed with human computer interaction, the Kinect is an important piece of hardware. Of all the various things Microsoft is working on these days, I find it the most interesting. I’ve seen some awesome things done with it by my friends at Oblong and Organic Motion and saw a ton of neat hacks at last year’s Blur Conference.

Recently, Microsoft announced the Kinect Accelerator, a program created to incubate startups building the next generation of innovative experiences for the Kinect. Microsoft’s Kinect Accelerator is powered by TechStars and applications for the Kinect Accelerator are now being accepted through January 25, 2012. If accepted, each company will receive an equity investment of $20,000 in exchange for six percent of the company in common stock, which will be held by TechStars. While Microsoft is putting significant effort into the accelerator program, Microsoft will not retain intellectual property or equity in any of the participating companies.

From March to June 2012, the companies will co-locate in space provided by Microsoft in Seattle where they will be provisioned Xbox development kits, Kinect hardware, the Kinect for Windows SDK and space for testing and developing Kinect based applications. Microsoft BizSpark will also supply each of the companies with a full complement of Microsoft development tools and support.

The companies will interact with and have access to mentors during the course of the program including Microsoft executives, entrepreneurs, and investors. The goal is to help new startups develop both the technology around their Kinect experience as well as the business model so the resulting company can prosper as an independent entity after the program.

Some of the mentors, in addition to me, include:

  • Jeff Powers, Founder, Occipital,
  • Andrew Tschesnok, Founder, Organic Motion
  • Manu Kumar, Investor, K-9 Ventures
  • Eran Egozy, Founder and CTO Harmonix
  • David Cohen, Founder/CEO, TechStars
  • Eric Norlin, Organizer, Blur, Defrag, and Glue conferences
  • Jason Mendelson, Managing Director, Foundry Group

Some of the Microsoft mentors include:

  • Dan’l Lewin, Corporate VP, Strategic and Emerging Business Development
  • Craig Eisler, General Manager, Kinect for Windows
  • Phil Spencer, VP, Microsoft Games Studios
  • Anoop Gupta, Distinguished Scientist, Microsoft Research
  • Michael Mott, General Manager, Microsoft Games Studios
  • Rick Martinez, Executive Producer, Microsoft Studios
  • Dave Drach, Managing Director, Emerging Business Team
  • Adam Isgreen, Creative Director, Microsoft Studios
  • Jeff Matsushita, Executive Producer, Microsoft Studios,
  • Rhys Dekle, Director, Business Development, Microsoft Studios

David Malcolm, a former Microsoft executive and current TechStars mentor, will be the Managing Director of the Kinect Accelerator. Since the program is powered by TechStars, it’ll follow the standard TechStars timeline finishing up with a demo day at the end of the program.

If you are an entrepreneur working on something related to Kinect, I can’t imagine a better place to spend three months of your life accelerating your business. Apply now.

I’ve always had a knack for quickly finding bugs.  It’s not hard with most software / web services as the bugs are everywhere, but they like to emerge from the shadows when I tickle my computer.

I’ve been running Outlook 2010 for a few weeks since it shipped.  Now that I’m used to the new ribbon UI, I find it much improved over Outlook 2007.  I particularly like the Conversations view which was long overdue (and works really well) and am amused that most of the memory leaks / shut down issues are gone.  Given the amount of email I jam through on a daily basis, my Outlook workflow is particularly well tuned and while I’ve tried to switch to Gmail, it hasn’t happened yet.  Maybe I’ll try again when Gmail gives me an option to not have a conversation view.

I ran into a surprisingly lame Outlook 2010 bug the other day.  I run an inbox zero drill although I fought to get there for about ten days after my week off the grid in May.  When I got there the other day, I was stunned to see that apparently no one tested for a classic off-by-one error – namely what happens when you have no messages in your inbox after you delete the last one.

They got half of it right.


Note the “There are no items to show in this view” in the left mail items list view.  However, not the remnant message – the last email that I was reading that I recently hit delete on – in the right reading pane.  Since there are no items in the mail item list view and nothing selected (since there is nothing to select), the right reading pane should be blank.  It’s obviously not.

Through the magic of email I was able to test this several times.  Specifically, inbox zero is a condition that doesn’t remain for long in my world.  As a few new messages came in, I read, responded, and deleted.  The error persisted.

It’ll be interesting to see if Microsoft fixes this in a quick patch or, if like the Snipping Tool close error, it persists – well – forever.