January 2012

TechStars and Microsoft BizSpark Team Up to Offer Startups $60K in Cloud Services on Windows Azure

TechStars, recently recognized as the No. 1 startup accelerator in the world, and Microsoft are working together to help startups fast-track their businesses. TechStars today announced an enhanced relationship with Microsoft through the new BizSpark Plus program for accelerators and incubators. The enhanced program allows TechStars accelerators in Boulder, Colo.; Boston; New York; Seattle; and Texas to offer each of their startups up to $60,000 (U.S.) of Windows Azure compute and storage over a 24-month period, at no cost.

BizSpark Plus is an extension of the Microsoft BizSpark program, designed to accelerate the success of startups around the world. BizSpark Plus works through select incubators and accelerators such as TechStars to provide value-added products and services to high-potential startups. In addition to offering this to TechStars, Microsoft is making this offer available to all founders whose accelerator is part of the Global Accelerator Network, a network of nearly 40 high-quality accelerators from around the world that follow a model similar to TechStars.

“Our passion is helping startups succeed around the world by providing funding and mentorship from the best and brightest Internet entrepreneurs and investors on the planet. The enhanced relationship with Microsoft will allow us to provide our founders with even more valuable support and services,” said David Cohen, founder and CEO of TechStars. “Access to technologies such as Windows Azure and other software and services from Microsoft through the BizSpark Plus program gives our companies a leg up in the all-encompassing race to scale and succeed.”

TechStars has a wealth of experience working with tech startups around the world that are building products and services in the cloud. Cloud applications and smart devices are driving the new startup ecosystem, affording startups the ability to drive user adoption, scale their companies and generate financial returns with far less capital and much more quickly than ever before. Windows Azure offers a simple, comprehensive and powerful platform for the creation of Web applications and services.

“TechStars is a great partner with a proven track record of attracting world-class startups. We are excited at the opportunity to work together to help startups when they need it most, with the products, resources and connections they need the most,” said Dan’l Lewin, corporate vice president, Strategic and Emerging Business Development, Microsoft. “Working with entrepreneurs on the forefront of the cloud revolution is especially rewarding. Windows Azure is a powerful, integrated platform, making it easy for startups to get their services up and running quickly with minimal overhead. This is the first offer from our new BizSpark Plus program, and we look forward to supporting TechStars members across a number of markets and technology offerings.”

In addition to the new BizSpark Plus partnership, we are also working with TechStars on the Kinect Accelerator program. The Kinect Accelerator is a three month business incubation program which will be held in Seattle from March to June, 2012. The Kinect Accelerator is designed to support entrepreneurs, engineers and innovators to bring to life a wide range of business ideas that leverage the limitless possibilities Kinect enables. On Friday February 3rd, 2012 NERD will host a special (and free) event to provide a deeper overview of what the Kinect Accelerator will be like and what participants could expect if they are accepted into this program. To RSVP, please click here.

10 Must Attend Events for the New Year!

Looking for some great events where you can learn and network in the New Year? Look no further, as we’re hosting a variety of events to help you stay connected in 2012. For a complete listing of events, please click here or follow along via RSS.

1.) Kinect User Group (1/23, 6:30pm)

Join us for the soft launch of the Kinect user group! We’re looking forward to hearing your ideas and feedback to help influence our future meetups, including the official kickoff on Monday, Feb 13th.

2.) MegaTweetUp (1/24, 6:00pm)

Join Boston TweetUp for a celebration honoring a year’s worth of TweetUps and networking events throughout New England. Think red carpet, meets music awards, paired with unprecedented networking, all at a Tweetup!

3.) Building the Talent Pipeline (1/25, 7:30am)

Can Massachusetts create a better and brighter workforce by educating our younger generation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)? The impact of STEM can be seen across every industry, in almost every company, and the competitive advantages of a STEM-trained workforce cannot be ignored. Add your expertise to this lively interactive forum, featuring Boston.com and Microsoft’s own, Jennifer Chayes, Distinguished Scientist & Managing Director, Microsoft Research New England.

4.) The Non-Event (1/25, 4:30pm)

Designed by The Ad Club, the NON-Event is an award show celebrating non-profits, their creative partners, and the award-winning marketing materials they produce together. The Boston creative community is so generous when it comes to sharing time, resources, and energy with local non-profits. Their dedication to creating phenomenal work for non-profit clients enables many important causes in this community to thrive.

5.) Cloud Mixer with Microsoft’s Satya Nadella (1/26, 5:00pm)

Join MassTLC’s cloud community for an evening of networking and conversation with the President of Microsoft’s Server and Tools Division, Satya Nadella, who is leading Microsoft’s enterprise transformation into the cloud and providing the technology roadmap and vision for the future of business computing.

6.) MITX E-Commerce Summit (1/27, 8:00am)

Bringing together expert practitioners and thought leaders to examine how to develop and keep the love of your customers, MITX will look ahead to the future of E-Commerce and how technology innovation, business model evolution and creative marketing strategy are building loyal customers who convert the first time, buy more and keep coming back.

7.) WEST: Alternative Careers in Science and Technology (1/31, 6:00pm)

Meet an extensive panel of female entrepreneurs and business leaders who have experience breaking into and thriving in careers outside of academia,
including: business development, technology, life sciences, patent law, consulting, communications, project management, and financial services.

8.) Boston I/O (2/4, 11:00am)

Boston I/O is a free conference for high school and college students where leading web designers and developers will give short, 10 minute talks on core technologies and design techniques that power today’s web and mobile world. Students will have the opportunity to meet with local web designers and developers to discuss internships and full-time job opportunities.

9.) Mass Innovation Nights (2/8, 6:00pm)

Mass Innovation Nights provides innovators, entrepreneurs and product marketers with a forum to connect with the social networking community, mainstream media, marketplace to gain more visibility for their new products.

10.) Easter Seals Connect for a Cause Fundraiser (2/16, 6:00pm)

Connect for a Cause raises disability awareness and support for Easter Seals Massachusetts, a non-profit organization committed to providing equal opportunities for children and adults with disabilities to live, learn, work and play. Join Easter Seals for a night of live entertainment and networking with young professionals and others, who are committed to giving back to the Boston community.

Microsoft Research Raises the Bar in Social Media Research

We’re thrilled to announce three leading researchers who will be joining danah boyd and the social media research team at Microsoft Research New England in Cambridge, Mass.

Microsoft Research has some of the strongest computer science research in the world. As the world changes and our business expands, there’s a much broader range of research questions that we need to address beyond the technology itself, including how we use that technology, why we want to use that technology and how different cultural norms within the U.S. and other countries impact how we approach future technology development.

At Microsoft Research New England (MSRNE) we’re creating an environment where more conventional computer science research occurs simultaneously with social science research to reflect how people want to use technology. We need to be asking why before we ask how. It can’t just be that the social scientists are figuring out the why and the technical people are figuring out the how. We need to be asking those questions and finding those answers together, in an iterative process, which converges on the development of new disciplines which inform the technology of tomorrow.

With the addition of these researchers, Microsoft Research will continue to engage in fundamental research in social media, and partnering with other Microsoft researchers and collaborating with academics around the world. The research they produce will hopefully help shape future social media technologies, policies and opportunities.

The three exceptional researchers who will join danah are experts in their fields and bring a breadth of diverse experience that will help advance MSRNE’s social media research and our collaboration with the academic community on these important topics.

Nancy Baym, MSR principal researcher, received her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1994, writing the first full length academic study of online community. In the late 1990s, she helped co-found the Association of Internet Researchers, an international interdisciplinary association for academics who study social dimensions of new media. She later served as its second President. Most recently, she has been a Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas. Her recent work focuses on the roles of social media in interpersonal relationships and relationship between musicians and their audiences.

Kate Crawford, MSR principal researcher, completed her PhD at the University of Sydney. She’s been a leading internet researcher in Australia, where she has been teaching and researching online media for the last ten years. Her work focuses on mobile and social media, particularly in their political, social and cultural contexts. She has conducted extensive field work in Australia and India, looking at the diversity in patterns of mobile and social media use across cultures and generations, and the role of gender and socio-economic status. She is a well-known commentator on technology issues, including as a regular guest for the BBC World Service, ABC TV, and multiple newspapers around the world. She has received the prestigious Australian Academy of Humanities Biennial Medal for research excellence as well as the Manning Clark National Cultural Award. Her books include ‘Adult Themes’ (2006) and the coauthored ‘Internet Adaptations: Language, Technology, Media, Power’ (Palgrave 2012).

Mary L. Gray, MSR senior researcher, studied anthropology before receiving her Ph.D. in Communication from the University of California at San Diego in 2004. Her research looks at how media access and everyday uses of technologies shape people’s lives. Her most recent book, Out in the Country: Youth, Media, and Queer Visibility in Rural America (NYU Press), which won awards from scholarly societies in Anthropology, Media Studies, and Sociology, examines how lesbian, gay, bi, and transgender young people negotiate and express their identities in rural parts of the United States and the role that media, particularly the internet, play in their lives and political work. She served on the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association from 2008 until 2010 and, now, holds a seat on that Association’s Committee on Public Policy. She’s been an Associate Professor of Communication and Culture at Indiana University, with adjunct appointments in American Studies, Anthropology, and Gender Studies.

We anticipate that the work of this world-class team of social media researchers will inform Microsoft product development teams and the broader community on how individuals want to use technology to stay connected to the people and information that matters most to them.

We’ve taken great pride in the research already done by danah and her team, most recently the study that was published about the unintended consequences of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, highlighting how parents help children lie about age to Facebook. This study underscored the importance of understanding the role that technology plays in society and is now informing public policy in Congress.

The multidisciplinary disciplinary research conducted at MSRNE extends beyond social research to economics, machine learning, computational biology and theoretical computer science. MSRNE is home to 30 leading researchers and post-docs, with 350 visiting researchers per year. We’re not aware of another group that covers the breadth of research that our team can produce and we’re proud to employ some of the smartest minds in the world in their fields.

I hope you’ll stay connected to our work by following this blog, danah’s blog and the new Microsoft Research blog. I can assure you exciting things are ahead.

Jennifer Chayes, Managing Director of MSRNE and MSR Distinguished Scientist