It’s been a wild ride the past few weeks. Our announcement of Bing Fund got a lot of attention in the blogosphere, and since then we’ve been hearing from people all over, both inside and outside of Microsoft, who are really excited about what we’re doing. We’ve also heard from a large number of startups.
Sorting through the list has been pretty tough, because there are so many talented entrepreneurs out there with great ideas. (For those of you who haven’t heard back from us yet, we apologize that it’s taking time but please be patient with us, we have a lot of submissions to go through.) Today I’m stoked to tell everyone about the first two startups we’re enrolling in our program, Buddy and Pinion. They’re an amazing couple of companies that I think can really change the landscape in their respective areas.
I learned about Buddy through a friend who welcomed me to Microsoft when I first joined the company. The idea for Buddy started percolating in the minds of founders Dave McLauchlan and Jeff MacDuff while they were still at Microsoft. As mobile apps really started to take off, they noticed that no one was offering pre-built, pre-scaled web services for developers to reuse. The skillsets for building mobile client apps and building web services are pretty different, they said, so let’s hop in and bridge the gap. So after 11- and 12-year careers at Microsoft, they left to form Buddy.
Buddy provides common services that help developers create great apps, such as friends and group lists, messaging and chat, geo-location services, photo albums, gaming, push notifications and crash reporting. Imagine every developer team having to write all those services themselves from scratch. Hallelujah for Buddy!
I asked Dave and Jeff how they felt about working with Microsoft again. After all, some people leave and don’t look back. Yes there is the emotional component, they said. In many ways Microsoft is still family to them. But the business reasons are compelling too. They both believe in future of Windows Phone and Windows 8 and are prepared to bet on it. Add to that the services they wouldn’t be able to offer without Bing, and working with Microsoft makes a lot of sense for Buddy. It also makes good business sense to be cross platform. In addition to Windows 8 and Windows Phone, they support iOS, Android, SmartTV, Facebook, and HTML5. This is totally cool with us, because what they’re doing is good for the whole ecosystem.
I want to reiterate, Bing Fund isn’t going to force people to use the Microsoft stack. We’re about the innovation, and we’re excited about the innovation Buddy is bringing to the table.
Pinion found me through contacts at Voodoo. I met Karl Flores, David Banham (aka Beardy), and Daniel Ringland when Bing Fund was just greenlit and we were in the middle of building a team. What started out as a casual meeting ended up being something insanely great. As an entrepreneur, I was blown away by their passion and persistence. Three times they have almost gone broke, and three times they have come back. Now their business is starting to take off.
As Karl summarizes it, “Pinion fuels communities that make gaming great.” Gaming communities are labors of love for the people who host their servers. But what if you could be engrossed in your favorite pastime and make some money while doing it? That’s what Pinion helps gaming communities do. Incredible, right?
They place interactive advertising on gaming servers. The ads don’t annoy gamers because they don’t invade the gaming experience, plus the ads are relevant to them. XBOX, Adidas, Domino’s, Budweiser: all tools of the gaming experience.
Pinion is doing some great work with Valve and their Steam platform. I have been a Steam user since, like, forever. I have been playing Counter-Strike and Half-Life since they first came out — so I spent a good amount of time studying how Pinion community servers work. Pinion is actually working on ways to improve the gaming experience, for example by offering up free gaming servers to communities.
I love these kinds of crazy ideas. Pinion’s great ideas could come from the Australian blood, Daniel’s entrepreneurial spirit, or Karl’s six years of experience running an award-winning R&B bar in Sydney. The team is full of colorful characters, and they’re already hanging out with us in the Bingcubator. The Bing Fund team is learning new things about the gaming business, and about the insane stuff that happens to Aussie bartenders. I seriously can’t wait to help the Pinion team achieve their dreams. This company is going places – and Bing Fund is committed to making this thing scream.
We couldn’t be happier with the first two companies we have on board. We’re working hard to find the next one. We’re going through all of our submissions and have identified some great companies in San Francisco and Boulder.
If you think you’ve got something great going on, drop us a line through our website