Thirty-nine-year-old Microsoft and 86-year-old American Family Insurance, which insures cars, homes, and offices, sound like an odd couple. But today, they seem like a natural fit.
The insurer and the tech giant are pairing up to launch a four-month accelerator in September for startups specializing in home automation. That’s an emerging field involving communication with and control of cameras, door locks, lights, sensors, and other gadgets, right over the Internet.
Microsoft Ventures, which runs accelerators around the world, will provide the startups with mentors and space to work on Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, Wash. American Family Insurance’s American Family Ventures will offer to invest as much as $25,000 in each startup, and the company will provide industry knowledge, according to a statement from Microsoft on the new program.
Microsoft could get lots of these startups sold on the Microsoft Way, and familiarize them with its cloud infrastructure and software. And American Family Insurance will get a fresh perspective on the home market, which should help its own business.
Lots of companies have been making moves in the growing category of the Internet of things lately.
It’s not Microsoft’s first time expressing interest in the broader category of the Internet of things, which includes the connection of multiple devices and services to a central hub.
Microsoft has reportedly allocated more resources to the hype-filled internet of things in recent months, and in April the company announced that Windows will become available free of charge for devices on the Internet of things.
Cisco and Intel have stepped up to support Internet of things startups, too.
Cisco Investments is backing the Alchemist Accelerator’s special accelerator dedicated to the Internet of things.
And Internet of things startups should get some new funding through the $100 million that Intel Capital has earmarked for that market as well as tablets, smartphones, and wearable devices in China.