S. “Soma” Somasegar, who recently left his job at the helm of Microsoft’s Developer Division, is joining Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group as a venture partner — launching a new phase of his career after nearly 27 years at the Redmond technology giant.
The venture capital firm says Somasegar will identify new investments and advise Madrona portfolio companies in his new role. Somasegar, who has previously done his own angel investing across consumer and enterprise startups, said in an interview that he’s bullish on the Seattle region in particular as a source of innovation and new companies.
“I can’t emphasize enough how much I see the Seattle location particularly having the potential and the opportunity to be as great a player as any place in the world in terms of startups and technology companies coming into existence in a successful way,” he said. “Part of the reason is because the talent that is available in Seattle today rivals any other part of the world, at least in terms of the technical and engineering talent.”
Somasegar had been at Microsoft since 1989, working on eight releases of Windows before joining the Developer Division. He helped to lead Microsoft’s push into open-source technologies, including the decision last year to open-source the .NET core server runtime and framework.
“Soma’s deep understanding of the needs of developers and, more broadly, of enterprise software development and adoption, will be especially relevant to Madrona’s investment strategy and portfolio companies,” said Tim Porter, one of Madrona Venture Group’s managing directors, in a statement. “We are excited to have Soma on board to share his extensive management and industry expertise with our entrepreneurs and our team.”
Madrona initially approached Somasegar while he was still at Microsoft to see if he wanted to invest in the company’s latest $300 million fund, known internally as “Fund VI.” He did, and that led to Somasegar and the leaders of Madrona getting to know each other better.
Later, when he made the decision to leave Microsoft, his conversations with Porter and Madrona’s Matt McIlwain ultimately led to his new position at the firm. Somasegar explained that he wanted to try something different that built on his experience and experience, rather than going to work for another big tech company like Amazon, Facebook or Google.
Madrona recently marked its 20th anniversary. Its investments have had an outsized impact on the Seattle startup market, starting with co-founder Tom Alberg’s early investment in Amazon.com, and extending to companies such as Redfin, Apptio, Pro.com, Peach, Smartsheet and many others.