People think that software engineers just sit around and solve problems. The truth is, no problem really becomes a problem unless there is some human interaction in the real world that highlights the friction between the human and that difficulty.

Engineering and the software they create is not really problem solving, though. I like to think about it more like opportunity solving, as if each opportunity is just waiting there, like a sliver of water in a jar.  You've heard of the Aesop's fable of the crow who was thirsty, but who could not reach the water in the bottom of a jar.

Well, the crow finally figured out how to put a bunch of stones in the jar, until it raised the water level. And then she took a nice cool drink.  Birds are smart. Crows are among the smartest birds in the world.

Startup engineers and developers are kind of like the crows of the startup ecosystem.

And Microsoft kind of gets developers, so we are showing the world with things like the Azure accelerators

The Microsoft® Accelerator for Windows Azure will host ten companies for a three month, on site, deep immersion program focused on building businesses that take advantage of the cloud. Through this program, Microsoft and TechStars will help entrepreneurs, engineers and innovators to bring to life a wide range of business ideas that leverage the limitless possibilities enabled by Windows Azure’s open and flexible cloud platform.

The program will run from late August through November in Seattle, Washington. The Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure is being powered by TechStars using the same mentor driven methodology pioneered and proven by them in New York, Boulder, Seattle and Boston.

Mentors for the Microsoft Accelerator include a broad base of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in the industry as well as Microsoft executives. In addition, Microsoft will provide in-depth technical support for Windows Azure and the METRO user interface environment delivered on Windows 8 and Windows Phone.

No Shift, Just Showing What We Really Mean -- Startups are Heroes and Culture Makers

Microsoft was instrumental in the creation of the home PC market. It literally revolutionized how people work anywhere.

The world is about solving for opportunity now. With the Cloud, people can not only just do business anywhere. They can create business anywhere. 

That's where relationships with investors and incubators mean a lot more than before. Real relationships are happening here, and we're dead set on giving the best deveopers anywhere a chance to make the best companies

and solutions in the world.

 Microsoft is being nimble in helping startups use Azure, for one thing. Check it out in Israel:


"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.