Microsoft Ventures to invest in cloud, security, machine learning startups

Microsoft has made over its Ventures group, and plans to use it to make early-stage investments in cloud, security and machine-learning startups.

Microsoft is creating a small early-stage investment group that is targeting startups in the cloud, security and machine-learning markets.

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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.

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The Microsoft Ventures team initially will have offices in the San Francisco/Bay area, seattle, New York City and Tel Aviv, "with the goal of expanding to other geographies in the coming years."

Companies in which Microsoft will invest are those developing products and services that complement Azure; those building new-business software-as-a-service apps; those that are targeting Windows and HoloLens; those creating enterprise and consumer productivity and communications offerings around Office 365; plus those working in security and machine learning.

Microsoft isn't attempting to hit a specific number of investments annually, according to the blog post. The Ventures Group, instead, plans to focus on the gap between startups targeted by the Microsoft Accelerator and larger investment and acquisition targets, officials said.