Why Microsoft might buy a two-year-old startup called Mesosphere for as much as $1 billion

There’s a hot new market in the cloud computing world called “containers” and one of the startups making hay is called Mesosphere, founded about two-years ago by former Twitter and Airbnb engineers.

Mesosphere has reportedly caught Microsoft’s attention and the software giant has been trying to buy the startup, reports The Information’s Amir Efrati.

Mesosphere believes it’s worth $US1 billion, Efrati reports.

Whether Microsoft bites for that price is questionable, but the company may not be the only one that wants to sniff around Mesosphere. Mesosphere reportedly hired famed Valley deal maker Qatalyst Partners, which could suggests Mesosphere is trying to trigger a bidding war.

In truth, Mesosphere would be valuable to any number of huge tech companies who are trying to build out their cloud computing services: Google, Amazon, IBM, Rackspace, Cisco, Oracle and the list goes on.

Mesosphere offers what it calls a Data Center Operating System (DCOS). It’s a commercial version of an increasingly popular free-and-open source project called Mesos that’s used by developers. Mesosphere founder Ben Hindman created Mesos while at UC Berkley. Hindman and the other Mesosphere founders brought Mesos into Twitter. Then co-founder Florian Leibert, who previously worked at Twitter, brought it to Airbnb.

Benjamin hindman apache mesos mesosphere

When developers write apps today, they use something called a container, the most famous one is from a hot startup called Docker. A container lets them easily configure all the settings they will need for running their app and then they can just toss the app from their development computer to a container in the cloud and the app will run fine.

But once you have thousands or hundreds of thousands of apps running inside their personal containers, how do you manage them all? That’s what Mesos and DOCS does.

And for Microsoft, who has banked its future on bringing its massive cadre of Windows developers to its cloud, Azure, a technology like that is tantalising. Maybe even $US1 billion-worth of temptation.

Mesosphere, which declined comment on this story, has raised $US49 million in three rounds from VCs like Khosla Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Data Collective, and other big names.

We’ve reached out to Microsoft and Qatalyst and will update this post when we hear back.

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