In an effort to draw high-potential startups to its cloud services platform, Azure, Microsoft is offering certain qualified startups a $120,000-per-year-credit starting July 1.
“Every startup is unique. Regardless of where they reside or what platform and tools they use, our goal is simple — we aim to help early stage companies accelerate innovation and get their stuff in the hands of customers as quickly as possible,” Steve “Guggs” Guggenheimer, corporate VP of Microsoft’s development group, wrote on his official blog June 15, announcing the new incentives.
The sizable credits, disbursed in $10,000 monthly installments, will be implemented as part of the existing BizSpark Plus program, and will be administered in partnership with more than 150 startup accelerators located in 47 countries around the globe. The BizSpark Plus program is open only to startups working with those partner accelerators; startups in the general BizSpark program do not need to work with accelerators.
BizSpark has already been offering Azure credits of up to $750 monthly, so some startups could theoretically get up to $10,750 each month to spend on services including storage, applications and software.
According to Guggenheimer, Microsoft has been working hard to tailor its services for startups. “We have spent a tremendous amount of time listening to better understand what startups need to be successful. From deeper support for open source technologies and tools on Azure to running and managing seven accelerators in seven countries, via our Microsoft Ventures programs, we’re taking the feedback to heart,” he wrote in the blog announcement.
Although Microsoft’s core customer base has typically been made up of much larger enterprises, its overtures toward startups are a clear indication that it’s looking to build relationships with the Facebooks and Ubers of tomorrow.
The new credits are also indicative of brutal competition in the cloud services marketplace. A full 59% of businesses now use the cloud in order to facilitate seamless data sharing across applications, but consumers have several high-profile services to choose from, as well as dozens of smaller ones.
Google offered similar credits for startups last year in an attempt to position Google Cloud Platform favorably, and Amazon Web Services is now a $5 billion business — leaving Microsoft playing catch up.