Microsoft has created a venture capital fund that will invest in companies that are making services and products that complement the company’s Azure cloud infrastructure, as well as such things as security and machine learning. The fund, called Microsoft Ventures, will be headed by Corporate VP Nagraj Kashyap.
Kashyap, the former head of Qualcomm Ventures, joined Microsoft earlier this year. Microsoft Ventures was created in collaboration with Peggy Johnson, Microsoft’s EVP of business development, who also is a former Qualcomm executive. When Johnson ran Qualcomm’s Internet Services business unit, she worked closely with startups.
The Microsoft Ventures team, which Kashyap describes as being “small but nimble,” will initially focus on companies in the San Francisco Bay area, Seattle, New York City, and Tel Aviv but will expand to other geographies down the road. The investments will be “Series A” and beyond, Kashyap said in a blog post about the new VC arm.
Kashyap said that, although Microsoft has always invested in startups, the company has not been involved in a lot of early-stage investments: “Because we would often invest alongside commercial deals, we were not a part of the early industry conversations on disruptive technology trends. With a formalized venture fund, Microsoft now has a seat at the table.”
Kashyap did not reveal the number of investments Microsoft Ventures plans to make per year or the amount of money it will invest. However, he did say that the team will invest steadily over the course of the year.
During his tenure at Qualcomm Ventures, Kashyap oversaw investments in a wide variety of companies, including Magic Leap, Airvana, Novarra, and Bitfone.
The new Microsoft Ventures is not to be confused with the old Microsoft Ventures, which has now been renamed Microsoft Accelerator. It will focus on helping startups with technology and consulting through Microsoft’s current seven accelerators worldwide.
Earlier this month Microsoft released the beta version of its Azure IoT Gateway software development kit (SDK), allowing developers to build and deploy gateway intelligence for Internet of Things (IoT) projects. The company also released a preview of its device management tool, specifically for the Azure IoT Gateway Hub.