Over the last few months, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in the launch of the Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure in Israel, China, and India.

The Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure is a program focused on enabling startups that do big things with the cloud to increase their chances of success.  As you all know, these are exciting times in the software industry, as we are seeing the dawn of a new way of designing applications powered by cloud technologies.  At the same time, we’re also seeing an explosion in startups representing the next-generation of entrepreneurs, all of which have the potential to be a significant growth engine for the global economy.  With the economics of the cloud and the agility it provides, bringing these two worlds together is extremely exciting.

We decided to launch the Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure program in Israel, China, and India because we believe the right combination of factors are present in these geographies to incubate great new product ideas.  The new breed of entrepreneurs emerging, combined with strong VC and Angel investor networks, means new companies have the foundation to innovate successfully in these large and growing markets.  And with the access to the global markets that the cloud brings, there are possibilities for growth that are almost unlimited.

Several months ago, we launched in Israel the first Azure accelerator.  Israel is known as “The Startup Nation,” where with only 8 million people it is one of the largest, most impactful startup communities in the world, accounting for the largest VC spending outside of the US.  Since the beginning of 2012, Israeli companies saw more than 35 exits and more than $8.5 billion in acquisitions. The Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure in Israel is only three months old at this point, but it’s already receiving high praise from the industry globally, such as being positioned as one of the top three accelerators in Israel by Business Insider.  More than 100 startups applied for inclusion in the program, with 11 accepted.  This first class of startups hasn’t completed yet, and yet 50% of these companies have already closed funding or hold term sheets from investors they met while at the accelerator.

Then a few weeks ago, we launched another accelerator, in China. China is a huge, growing, and dynamic market, where we’re committed to working with the startup community and, in particular, with the open source community. The revenue of China's software and information technology industry is expected to grow at an annual rate of 24% and to exceed $635 billion by 2015, with server volume also growing much faster than the rest of the world.  This growth is unprecedented and has the ability to fundamentally shift the nature of the market itself.  As such, this is a great opportunity, not only to help these startups grow, but also to learn from their experiences and to use the resulting feedback to improve our technology.

Finally, this past week saw the launch of our third accelerator launch, in India, where we announced the 11 startups selected out of more than 200 applications for inclusion in the program.  Since 1998, software revenues have grown from 1.2% of the India GDP to 7.5%.  2012 is also a landmark year for the India software industry, as this year its aggregate revenues will cross the $100 billion mark.  Whatever type of software these startups build, they have the potential to create many new jobs, which is critical to improving the economy of India.  India has made big strides in this regard over the past few years, but much remains to be done, and tremendous opportunity exists.

I expect there will be some amazing new companies born from these Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure programs in Israel, China, and Israel, and from the upcoming US-based accelerator we’ll be hosting in Seattle.  The true measure of this program’s success will be when the companies who were selected to participate make it big.  Microsoft is committed to doing all that we can to help with early-stage care and feeding of these new companies. 

I look forward to the day when I can look back on these launches and say “I remember when these companies got started, and look at how far some of them have come now!”

Namaste!

 

Companies in the inaugural class of the Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure in Israel

 

Companies in the inaugural class of the Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure in China

 

Companies in the inaugural class of the Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure in India