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GreenButton’s cloud compute might goes to Microsoft

Microsoft Azure has bought GreenButton, the Kiwi company that powers applications with big cloud-based computing capacity requirements.

The company began in Wellington in 2006. CEO Scott Houston is the former CIO of Weta Digital, where he came up with the idea of giving firms boosts of cloud computing power for dedicated projects, the mission of the New Zealand Supercomputing Centre.

The acquisition, for an undisclosed sum, will bolster Azure, Microsoft’s public cloud offering, the tech giant says.

“Data and computation are driving businesses today—but as data volume, variety and velocity continue to explode, our customers need help processing massive amounts of information and running compute-intensive simulations for a growing number of applications,” says Mike Neil, director of program management for Microsoft Azure. “This need is met by big compute.”

Microsoft says it will integrate GreenButton’s IP into the Azure platform and retain and invest in the team and infrastructure. That team and infrastructure will stay in New Zealand after the acquisition, it says.

Houston says the acquisition shows it’s possible for Kiwi companies to be noticed by giants like Microsoft if they take their idea to the world stage. “This purchase is a real shot in the arm for other New Zealand companies,” he says.

New Zealand Venture Investment Fund (NZVIF) welcomed the sale, saying it offered a healthy return for several Kiwi investors and would encourage re-investment in the Kiwi startup sector.

“Scott Houston and his GreenButton team developed some great technology,” says CEO Franceska Banga. “They were backed by a strong contingent of New Zealand angel investors, led by Marcel van den Assum and AngelHQ, Enterprise Angels and Ice Angels and supported by NZVIF. Having taken the company into international markets, GreenButton now has the international partner it needs to achieve scale.”

Van Den Assum said more than 20 individual angels from three networks contributed – Angel HQ in Wellington, Enterprise Angels in Tauranga and Ice Angels in Auckland – as did early stage venture funds Movac, Sparkbox and Evander.

“Almost all the investors have indicated they will reinvest the returns straight back into their startup communities,” he said.

AngelHQ chairman Bruno Bordignon says GreenButton was one of te first venture AngelHQ investors put money into over four years ago.

“We are delighted to celebrate this win, not just for our investors but for the Wellington region, as many of these investors recycle into other opportunities,” he said.

Amanda Sachtleben is an Auckland writer and social media type, who's also Idealog's former tech editor and business journalist.

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