Microsoft, Akamai Team Up for Security Startup Accelerator

The two companies announce plans to boost IT security startups and entrepreneurs in Israel.

Microsoft and Akamai partnership

Microsoft and Akamai, the content delivery network (CDN) provider, announced that they are partnering to help early-stage IT security startups in Israel bring their innovations to market by kicking off the country's first security accelerator.

Also lending a hand is Jerusalem Venture Partners, a venture capital firm. The security-focused program is based in the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator in Tel Aviv. Participants will have access to mentorship opportunities, free tools and resources.

Akamai is contributing its "respected Web-security expertise," according to the companies. Although best known as a CDN provider, the Cambridge, Mass.-based company has built up a considerable security practice over the years.

Late last year, Akamai snapped up Prolexic Technologies for $370 million. Prolexic's cloud-based security platform shields data centers and enterprise IP applications from distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. DDoS attacks knock Websites offline and disrupt cloud services and Web applications by flooding Internet-facing servers with traffic.

Akamai also routinely surveys the security landscape and publishes a quarterly State of the Internet report. The company's latest findings reveal that attackers are increasingly targeting the Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) server port and that DDoS attacks have dipped in the first quarter of 2014.

Security expertise aside, Akamai is also opening up its checkbook for the cause. The company "is offering to invest up to $25,000 with each cyber-security startup accepted into the program through the purchase of convertible notes," according a July 29 announcement.

Zack Weisfeld, head of Microsoft Ventures Europe, referred in a company statement to Akamai as "the perfect partner to join Microsoft in delivering unparalleled access and value to startups joining the accelerator. Like us, Akamai is a big proponent of secure computing with a massive reach."

Like other facets of the IT industry, the field of data security doesn't stand still. Stuart Scholly, senior vice president and general manager of Akamai's Security Business Unit, said in a statement that "the computer security landscape continues to evolve with new threats emerging every day. We believe that supporting security innovation, not only at Akamai, but also through promising entrepreneurs, is of true benefit to our customers and any company doing business on the Internet."

The companies encourage interested parties to sign up at the Microsoft Ventures Website. Startups accepted into the program will be announced Aug. 24. Upon the program's completion, Jerusalem Venture Partners will offer one of the startups a $1 million investment.

Microsoft Ventures operates seven startup accelerators worldwide. Locations include Bangalore, Beijing, Berlin, London, Paris, in addition to Tel Aviv. Last month, the company announced that it was launching a new accelerator in its Seattle-area campus to spur innovation in the Internet of things friendly field of home automation with the help of American Family Insurance.

Mobility is another area of interest to Microsoft's VC arm.

Last year, Microsoft Ventures announced that it had invested an unspecified amount in SkyGiraffe, a maker of cloud-based software that enables organizations to quickly deploy custom mobile apps that interface with enterprise databases. In February, Microsoft announced that it had funded Askem, a startup whose "addictive" mobile app promotes better decision-making by polling friends on social media.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...