Israel Digest: Microsoft rejigs ops, State of Mind Ventures launches $75m fund

Dome of The Rock in Jerusalem

Microsoft Ventures has restructured its incubator and accelerator arms in Israel, while State of Mind Ventures has closed a $75 million investment fund.

Microsoft Ventures splits incubator & accelerator arms

Israel is seeing Microsoft realigning its startup-oriented businesses. The US tech giant is shifting venture investment and accelerator arms to achieve greater focus on startup support. the Microsoft Ventures name to a new venture capital (VC) fund, while rebranding the original programme as Microsoft Accelerator.

According to a report from Geektime, the new fund will oversee older investments and focus on both Israel and North America. This permits the original programme to increase its focus on accelerating and incubating startups on a global basis, splitting Microsoft’s venture investment and accelerator arms.

In a corporate blog post, Microsoft Ventures corporate VP, Nagraj Kashyap, explained: “In Microsoft’s history of engaging with and supporting startups, 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.”

Accordant to this, the new Microsoft Ventures will fill a gap between seed-stage investment and larger financing rounds, suggesting a possible focus on Series A, B and C investments. Currently, the Microsoft portfolio contains hundreds of SaaS firms.

Kashyap noted: “There are often questions around corporate venture programs versus venture capital firms, and whether or not they are at odds or create disadvantages for entrepreneurs. In our case, we are driven by the desire to help early stage companies take advantage of Microsoft’s financial, technical and GTM resources.”

The new Microsoft fund re-focuses on Tel Aviv, with the other centres it targets being New York, the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle, with an emphasis on  Azure cloud infrastructure and software firms that are complementary to product  that could help improve Microsoft’s respective suites of products. According to Kashyap, observers can expect to more investments targeted at the machine learning and cybersecurity domains.

Also Read: Golden Gate Ventures, Wavemaker Partners most prolific investors in SE Asia

Temasek launching new $150m ‘Red Dot’ fund for mature Israeli technology startups

State of Mind Ventures raises $75m fund

Israeli venture capital firm State of Mind Ventures (SOM)  has closed their first at a hard cap of $75 million. SOM is co-founded by Pinhas Buchris and Yuval Baharav in January 2015, both of whom have  backgrounds in technology and business. The CFO of SOM is Nir Adler, who also serves as the principal of the firm. Adler was formerly a senior analyst and chief of staff at the budget department of the Israeli Ministry of Defence.

Based on a Geektime report, they began raising the funds in September 2015, with the $75 million goal as the quantum required to establish the fund and initiate investments in early stage Israeli startups. To date, their portfolio include investments in four startups.

Speaking on the development, Bahrav commented: “We are happy that we were able to raise around half of the fund from Israeli institutional investors. We’re an Israeli fund and for us to manage funds that are part of people’s lives here is really significant and contributes to the sense of being a responsible and disciplined investor.”

In his interaction with Geektime, Baharav explained the motivation for opening the early-stage fund was based in a long term vision of the role of technology in shaping the future.

He elaborated to Geektime: “The first thing is like any other entrepreneur in the sense that you want to create something new, to build your own business. It’s the same thing as when you found a startup, it’s exciting.

“We both felt that we can really help companies and entrepreneurs to succeed and do it right. We felt that there is a real significant opportunity to operate in this space of super technological startups, companies that build tomorrow’s technological infrastructure,” Baharav added.

The latest investments and his interaction with Geektime suggest that the fund is targeting investments in deep technology, given Baharav’s citation of domains like space, AI and nanotechnology amongst other domains, as areas of interest for the firm.

Also Read: Russian funds Impulse, Phystech Ventures invest in UK adtech startup Locomizer

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.