Microsoft Launches Investment Fund for Cloud Startups

Mitch Wagner

Microsoft has launched a new venture fund designed to kick-start cloud technologies for early-stage startups.

Previously, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) did a lot of investing, but not much in the early stage. The new investment arm gives Microsoft a voice in the very beginnings of disruptive technologies, Nagrav Kashyap, corporate VP of Microsoft Ventures, said in a blog post announcing the project Monday.

The group, called Microsoft Ventures, is headed up by Kashyap, formerly head of Qualcomm Ventures, who joined Microsoft in January, and fellow Qualcomm veteran Peggy Johnson, Microsoft executive vice president of business development. Kashyap envisions Microsoft Ventures as being "somewhere in the middle," between Microsoft Accelerator, where "we help early stage companies with tools, technology and consulting" and, on the other end, Microsoft's "larger investments and acquisitions."

Microsoft Ventures is starting in the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, New York City and Tel Aviv, and will expand into other geographies in coming years, Kashyap says.

What will Microsoft Ventures focus on? Kashyap says:

"Companies developing product and services that complement Azure infrastructure, building new business SaaS applications, promoting more personal computing by enriching the Windows and HoloLens [augmented reality] ecosystems, new disruptive enterprise, consumer productivity and communication products around Office 365 are interesting areas from an investment perspective."

The investment unit will also focus on machine learning and security.

Microsoft Ventures takes its name from a previous unit that was part of Microsoft's developer evangelism group, which is now known as Microsoft Accelerator.

— Mitch Wagner, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor, Light Reading Enterprise Cloud.

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