Microsoft is making a kind of come back into India as far as its venture capital investment arm is concerned. Microsoft Ventures is now looking at picking up startups in India, working in focused areas like autonomous vehicles, Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain and related technologies, for investments.
The Redmond, US headquartered tech giant has also made it clear that most of their investments will be in the form of Series A and Series B funding though seed funding is not completely ruled out.
This current move into the Indian startup scene is a culmination of efforts initiated by CEO Satya Nadella almost 4 years back. He brought in a global vice-president to handle the investment arm and Peggy Johnson made a lot of changes to the way the business was run before she took over, including moving the headquarters of the division to the Silicon Valley from Redmond.
They now have offices in New York, London, Tel Aviv and now India and a former Qualcomm executive Nagraj Kashyap leads the operations. Some 45 startups, worldwide, have already received their funding. A typical ticket size could be between $2 million and $10 million. They have the option to make solo investments or co-invest with other VCs.
While at a broader level, Microsoft Ventures’ initiative to fund startups is laudable, the company’s executives have admitted that ultimately, the work being carried on by these startups, in the above-mentioned focus areas, will add some value to Microsoft’s own technologies.
There are, however, reservations being expressed by some observers over the success rate of corporate venture capitalists in convincing promoters of startups to accept funding by them. There could be specific reasons each entrepreneur may have for being a little circumspect in accepting investments by corporate venture capitalists.
Microsoft Ventures’ Peggy Johnson, however feels they have assembled as diverse team with VC credentials as they can and feel quite upbeat about their future in India.