Microsoft Ventures just launched five months ago, but they already invested in 13 startups. They are the first formal venture fund of the Redmond company and they aim to support firms that specialize in communications, productivity, security, machine learning, and software as a service.
A New Endeavour
Peggy Johnson, the executive vice president of business development at Microsoft, discussed the name and number of companies they invested in during a stage interview at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle.
The company revealed they supported Team 8, a security technology company by Israelis; CognitiveScale, a machine learning company in Austin, Texas; and Layer, a messaging technology company in San Francisco.
Other firms in their portfolio are Helpshift, a mobile customer support technology company in San Francisco; Outreach, a sales technology startup in Seattle; Rescale, a cloud-focused, high performance computing company in San Francisco; and Comfy, a smart building app company in California.
Microsoft Ventures also helped fund Kahoot, a game-based learning platform in Norway; CrowdFlower, an artificial intelligence startup in San Francisco; and Aqua Security, a security technology company for software containers in Tel-Aviv. Meanwhile, the other three companies have not yet revealed their funding rounds.
Behind Microsoft Ventures
Johnson, an engineer and Qualcomm executive, along with Nagraj Kashyap, the previous Qualcomm Ventures leader, established the Microsoft Ventures fund together. At the GeekWire Summit, Johnson revealed that she knew how Qualcomm used their venture fund to get a preview into new trends, technologies and business models.
She says they did not have that discussion with Microsoft yet, but the company assisted in getting them meetings with venture capitalists and startups. She explains that they now have a deal flow and will get to view new technologies.
Regarding the search for the venture arm, Jonson says Microsoft is concentrating on machine learning and artificial intelligence. They also want to focus on how the technologies can enhance the services and products of Microsoft. She says that infusing AI into daily services is one of the pillars of their tactic.
According to Kashyap, Microsoft did not take part in the early industry conversations on disrupting technology updates. He says the new fund will help his company get access into the new trends.
What most people do not know is that Microsoft Ventures is just a part of a bigger plan led by the business development group of Johnson. They want Microsoft to open up to new calculated relationships and partnerships with firms in Silicon Valley and in the tech industry as a whole.