Microsoft is creating a small early-stage investment group that is targeting startups in the cloud, security and machine-learning markets. The new group is taking over the old "Microsoft Ventures" name. The entity formerly known as Microsoft Ventures, which was owned by the Developer Evangelism team, has been rebranded to "Microsoft Accelerator." The Microsoft Accelerator will continue to aid startups with technology and consulting through Microsoft's existing seven accelerators worldwide, officials explained in a May 30 blog post announcing the Ventures make-over. The head of the new Microsoft Ventures group is Corporate Vice President Nagraj Kashyap, who joined Microsoft from Qualcomm earlier this year.
After laying dormant for quite some time, Microsoft has announced that it is getting back into directly investing in startups. Microsoft Ventures has been overhauled, though it's not clear why Microsoft has decided to get back into investing -- or if the company is in it for the long haul. Nagraj Kashyap, the corporate vice president of Microsoft Ventures, laid out his vision for the investing arm in a blog post Monday, saying that the fund will be used to support early-stage companies and help Microsoft be more involved in new technology developments. Microsoft's existing series of startup accelerators, and its BizSpark program to offer discounts on software, will be rolled into a new Microsoft Accelerator organization. For larger business partnerships and acquisitions, Microsoft will rely on a different team.
Microsoft created a new ventures arm just over four months ago. As of October 4, Microsoft Ventures has invested in 13 companies, officials said today. Microsoft and the Series A to Series D startups in which it has invested to date are not disclosing the amount Microsoft is investing in each of the companies in its portfolio. But Microsoft has created a new Microsoft ventures site listing the companies it is backing. There are three additional companies in Microsoft Ventures portfolio which haven't been announced yet, officials said.
US-based Microsoft Ventures, the venture capital arm of software giant Microsoft, announced on Monday that it has formed a new fund for investments in startups focused on artificial intelligence. Nagraj Kashyap, who heads Microsoft Ventures, confirmed the development in a blog post. The corpus of the new fund was not announced, but the company has already made its first investment from this fund in Montreal-based firm Element AI. "This new fund will make investments of similar size to previous Microsoft Ventures investments, and will only include businesses with promise for strong financial returns (as opposed to non-profits or NGOs)," Kashyap wrote in a blog post. Founded in 2016, Element AI offers artificial intelligence solutions to large corporations through its incubator platform. The firm's team comprises academic researchers from research labs across North America.