Microsoft launches home-automation start-up accelerator

Microsoft launches home-automation start-up accelerator

Summary: Microsoft's latest start-up accelerator is focusing on home automation and will be based in Redmond, Wash.


Microsoft has launched its latest start-up accelerator, which will focus on home automation.


In partnership with American Family Insurance, one of the biggest mutual property/casualty insurance companies, Microsoft is looking to invest in start-ups in the home-automation market. This newest accelerator, the formation of which Microsoft announced on June 17, will be based on the Redmond, Wash., Microsoft campus.

American Family Insurance will provide participants with "a wealth of homeowner knowledge that would be impossible for young companies to gain access to on their own," according to Microsoft's press release. American Family also will be offering startups participating in the accelerator a minimum optional $25,000 equity investment in each startup accepted into the program. The home-automation accelerator will be operational from September to December 2014.

Microsoft has been conducting its own research in the home-automation space, with projects like its HomeOS operating system. Last year, Microsoft bought a home-automation focused company, id8 Group R2 Studios, whose technology the Redmondians are thought to be integrating with Xbox. More recently, it announced a partnership with Insteon, which is developing home-automation applications for Windows Phone and Windows 8.

Microsoft also has been putting more of its corporate eggs into the Internet of Things (IoT) basket, of which home-automation is a key piece. The Azure team is the lynchpin of Microsoft's IoT efforts.

Microsoft formed its consolidated start-up outreach arm, Microsoft Ventures, in 2013. The company already launched ventures accelerators in Bangalore, Beijing, Berlin, London, Paris and Tel Aviv.

Topics: Innovation, Emerging Tech, Microsoft, Start-Ups, Tapping M2M: The Internet of Things


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Sure...connect your HOME to the Internet... now not only can hackers screw up your computer...they can also hack into any appliance or home system connected. Sounds like a really great idea...or maybe not.

    Think it won't eventually happen? Think again.
  • House OS Crash

    Remember if your House OS Crashes, you have to step outside and open and close the front, rear and garage door at the same time.
  • The timing made me smile.

    Apple makes big noises about a new home automation push. Days later, Microsoft makes an announcement that they're going to start pushing home automation, too. I'm guessing Google will make an announcement next week.
    • Odd...

      A quick Google shows announcements of Microsoft pushing home automation in 2012 and 2013.
      Hallowed are the Ori
  • Thanks for excellent coverage with references

    Good journalism: lots of facts, references and industry context. The other commenters are right that home automation, like any emerging market, is fraught with risks, mistakes... but it has tremendous potential benefit for CONSUMERS which means broad economic impact. Excellent to partner with a home insurance company to provide market data. Why is the incubator only 3 months (sept-dec 14)? Why so much more activity outside the US? Will you turn this into a series?