Earlier this year, Microsoft Ventures announced that it wanted to work with home automation startups and that it was pairing up with American Family Insurance as well. Home automation is likely the next big wave for consumer innovation, and while the idea is nothing new, the barrier to entry for startups is quite low and prices are quickly entering the range where many consumers can afford such luxuries. For example, Insteon allows you to control your home with Cortana and it only costs a couple hundred bucks to wire your house up.
The companies that have been selected for the program include a wrist-worn device that allows you to control your home through gestures to smart outlets and switches, and of course security systems are a big part of home automation too. There are ten companies in total and you can check them out at the source link below.
The program is quite interesting from Microsoft’s perspective, as it is focused on one specific type of company and the intent may be more far-reaching than it seems at first glance. With the home automation market starting to heat up, it seems that Microsoft wants to get in on the ground early with new companies in this arena. The thinking behind this move could be to spot new technologies before they hit mass market so that Microsoft can acquire companies in this space and give themselves an advantage against competitors.
This type of strategy is a big bet as finding these companies at an early stage is not an easy task, requiring the right combination of ideas, execution and coding to make a company a success. But Microsoft is not alone as the field of venture capitalists looking for the ‘next big thing’ is about as crowded as a sardine can. We have already seen Google snatch up Nest, so there is certainly a strong desire from many companies to boost their presence in this space.
Will it pay off for Microsoft and the startups? That’s a question that only time can answer.
Source: Microsoft | Image: Satya Nadella