Microsoft's New Investment Arm Helps Finance 13 Startups
Microsoft Ventures, which is focused on early innovations, has funded 13 startups since it was founded this past spring.In the few short months since its debut, Microsoft Ventures has invested in more than a dozen technology startups, the company announced this week. Microsoft established the venture fund in May. Describing the move as a shift in its investment strategy, Microsoft said the fund would focus on early-stage startups that are developing technologies on the forefront of cloud computing, machine learning and data security, among other cutting-edge IT disciplines. (The former Microsoft Ventures unit was rebranded Microsoft Accelerator.) Historically, the company's funding activities often involved some sort of commercial deal where the underlying technology had reached a certain level of maturity or popularity. Nagraj Kashyap, corporate vice president of Microsoft Ventures, said in statement that Microsoft was "not a part of the early industry conversations on disruptive technology trends" and that the new fund would help earn his company "a seat at the table." Now, just over four months after its launch, Kashyap revealed that his fund has already backed 13 startups, 10 of which he publicly disclosed. (The remaining three have yet to make a formal funding announcement.)
"In the world of business SaaS [software-as-a-service], we've invested in Helpshift and Outreach. In cloud infrastructure, we've invested in Rescale," wrote Kashyap in an Oct. 4 blog post. San Franscisco-based Rescale, a cloud high-performance computing (HPC) specialist, announced on June 16 that the company raised $14 million in a Series A round of financing after attracting seed funding from a handful of high-profile investors, including Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson.