Rahul Sood

Even big companies face significant hurdles launching new products. As it turns out, Microsoft Ventures, the company’s new umbrella program for startups, almost had trouble launching on time.

“Somebody registered, and we had to buy it from them,” said Rahul Sood, General Manager for Microsoft Ventures at today’s START conference in San Francisco.

Luckily for the Redmond-based tech giant, their negotiations with the squatter went well, and they successfully launched their program yesterday. Sood appeared at the conference to explain what Microsoft could bring to startups, as well as some of the internal challenges they’re trying to solve with Microsoft Ventures. Chief among those challenges was how fragmented Microsoft’s startup programs were.

“The bottom line is, we have all these activities, but they’re all sort of disparate and run by different teams with different visions,” Sood said.

That fragmentation made things confusing for startups, so even if they got free software through BizSpark, they wouldn’t think to apply for funding through the Bing Fund or work with a Microsoft startup accelerator.

1121.MS_DiagramV7“Microsoft’s a very complex company, like any large company, and we decided to come together as one team and create a very clear value proposition to startups, that you know, Microsoft has a massive footprint in the enterprise, we have great relationships with enterprise customers, and we want to help startups create great businesses, and then give them unparalleled routes to customers,” he said.

Sood acknowledges that talk is cheap, and that Microsoft is late to the party when it comes to organizing its startup programs. But he says Microsoft has a track record of helping startups succeed.

“We’ve also had a number of our accelerator companies, 85 percent of our companies, by the time they’re leaving the accelerator, they’re getting funded at demo day, an average of a million dollars. It’s pretty incredible the quality that’s coming out.”

Previously on GeekWire: Microsoft moves its startup programs under one roof with Microsoft Ventures

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  • Guest

    Bringing everything under one umbrella is good, and Sood is an ideal choice to spearhead it. But it’s hard to overstate how badly MS failed here. When I think back to the late 90s, nobody was putting more effort into outreach programs, grass root developer events, partner programs, and so on. Today, MS is bringing up the distant rear, with Android and iOS way out in front. Yet another total reversal of position/fortune under Ballmer.

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