Microsoft has announced the formation of a new investment arm, Microsoft Ventures, which will focus on early-stage venture capital for start-up companies.
Microsoft has long invested cash in external companies: it was instrumental in the deal to send Dell private again
, owns a chunk of Facebook
, invested in Android port Cyanogen
, and was even rumoured to be sniffing around AMD
last year. These investments, however, have a common thread: they typically occur when a company has already proven itself in the market and has a reasonable headwind behind it.
'We’ve done a lot of investing, but not a lot of early stage. Because we would often invest alongside commercial deals, we were not a part of the early industry conversations on disruptive technology trends,
' bemoaned Microsoft's Nagraj Kashyap in a blog post
announcing the formation of a new investment group. 'With a formalised venture fund, Microsoft now has a seat at the table.
Dubbed Microsoft Ventures - not to be confused with the company's previous Microsoft Ventures arm of its Developer Evangelism group, which has now been renamed the Microsoft Accelerator - the group will seek out start-up companies in which it can make early-stage investments, as Microsoft seeks to further diversify itself. Initially, it will focus on start-ups located in San Francisco, Seattle, New York City, and Tel Aviv, with expansion promised 'in the coming years.
Kashyap has indicated that 'we’re not aiming to hit a specific number of investments annually, but you should expect steady activity over the course of the year
' in the field of companies working on cloud technologies complementing Microsoft's own Azure platform, software-as-a-service, Windows- and HoloLens-based personal computing projects, security, and machine learning.