You may already know Microsoft Ventures as the company’s startup accelerator, but now the name is being used for Redmond’s own venture capital division, which was launched on Monday. The old startup accelerator will now been given the apt name of “Microsoft Accelerator” while Microsoft Ventures will focus on investments and acquisitions.
Microsoft is rumored to be weighing up numerous large scale purchases, Yahoo among them, but it is unlikely the ventures division will handle big transactions like that. For example, the company’s interest in Yahoo is said to be as an investor through a dedicated venture firm.
Instead, Microsoft Ventures will focus on investing in early-stage startups, something the company admits had has not focused on in the past. In a blog post announcing the new division, Nagraj Kashyap, corporate vice president of Microsoft Ventures, said that the company will now take risks on smaller companies and ideas.
“In Microsoft’s history of engaging with and supporting start-ups, 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. With a formalized venture fund, Microsoft now has a seat at the table.”
This all means Microsoft will be looking to invest in companies early, so expect to hear plenty from Microsoft Ventures over the coming months and years. The division will have a base in Seattle, San Francisco, Tel Aviv, and New York and will initially be focusing attention on startups that have an idea or product that ties into existing Microsoft products and services.
Kashyap said that the division is “not aiming to hit a specific number of investments annually,” but “in the coming days and weeks ahead and beyond, you will see us showing up as an investor in companies that complement these spaces and those that aim to disrupt how business is done today.”