Microsoft for Startups gives entrepreneurs Azure time and sales support backed by $500M in funding

Microsoft launched a new program designed to help startups get off the ground and into Microsoft’s ecosystem of cloud services on Monday, overhauling its BizSpark program and giving it a catchy new name.

Charlotte Yarkoni, corporate vice president for growth and ecosystems, Microsoft (LinkedIn Photo)

Over the next two years, Microsoft for Startups will provide $500 million worth of sales assistance and Azure credits to startups that sign up for the program, with up to $120,000 in free Azure credits per startup. The company will also help startups in the program get in front of customers with the help of Microsoft’s enterprise sales team, which is a common problem for enterprise computing startups looking to break out.

The company will also provide startups with access to some of its community spaces, such as the Microsoft Reactors venues, where Microsoft employees and startups can come together to share ideas and solve common problems. This program is going international, with plans to open Microsoft Reactor spaces in London, Sydney, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Shanghai and Beijing.

Up until now, Microsoft’s BizSpark program operated in a similar fashion, but Microsoft for Startups appears to bring several entrepreneurial programs together under Charlotte Yarkoni, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of growth and ecosystem. Microsoft Accelerators, a program for startups with a little bit more momentum, is now called Microsoft ScaleUp.

Amazon Web Services built its market-leading cloud service on the back of startups from the last generation of growth, such as Pinterest, Airbnb, and Lyft. Microsoft and Google’s cloud services have also had some success among startups of that generation, but all major cloud companies are falling over themselves in hopes of finding that next big startup and making sure those workloads run on their cloud services.