For the past few weeks, there've been some tweets showing up in my timeline from something called the Bing Fund.
ZDNet (and Techie-Buzz) blogger Manan Kakkar has noticed these, too. The tweets lead to a BingFund.com Web page that tease "We're working on something fun and will have more to share soon." (Kakkar noted in one tweet, there was an indication that Microsoft would peel back the covers on the Bing fund in mid-July.)
The head of the new Bing Fund is Rahul Sood, the founder of VoodooPC (purchased by HP), who most recently was a General Manager in Microsoft's Xbox business. But as of March 2012, according to Sood's LinkedIn profile, he became General Manager of the Bing Fund, "a new program designed for entrepreneurs (and) startups in Bing."
A posting on Microsoft's own job site details Bing Fund further, describing it as "an Angel Incubator working with startups and accelerators to bring a wave of innovation to OSD" (Microsoft's Online Services Division). From that job posting:
"The Bing Fund portfolio includes startups working on the web, desktop, mobile and console. Because of the pace and variety of Bing Fund startups, the type of work (for a creative director on the Bing Fund) can vary hugely. We are looking for the whole package: someone who can go from a concept - articulating the high level concept - to driving the experience from incubation through to creation of production assets. You have demonstrated ability to effectively partner with developers and entrepreneurs to shepherd end to end experiences from concept to ship. You have knowledge of natural user interface (NUI) paradigms and have experience in designing experiences with multiple input modalities."
It doesn't seem as though the Bing Fund incubator will bar those not focusing on Microsoft technologies. From another job posting:
Given the new incubator is called the Bing Fund, I wonder whether usage of Microsoft's Bing search engine is a prerequisite for Microsoft funding and support. Given that Microsoft's Bing team often promotes and funds causes and events that have basically nothing directly to do with growing Bing's usage share, I'm thinking this might not be the case.
Bing isn't the only product in OSD's line-up. Microsoft's OSD also includes MSN, adCenter, and advertiser tools. Bing and MSN generate revenues through the sale of search and display advertising. Search and display advertising accounts for nearly all of OSD's annual revenue -- yes, even in spite of the fact of the recent $6 billion write-down connected with the company's acquisition of the digital advertising vendor aQuantive.
I've asked Microsoft officials for further comment on the Bing Fund, but have yet to hear back.