This is post overdue, as the last several months have been quite busy. Besides, I’m not much of a self-promoter to begin with (ironic for someone with his own website, perhaps), but I was recently called out for stealthily updating my Twitter profile, so I figured it’s time to share with a wider audience.
I recently joined M12, Microsoft’s Venture Fund, as a managing partner. I have the privilege & good fortune to work with an accomplished team investing in enterprise SaaS, AI, web3/gaming, and frontier technologies.
As a startup builder and former corporate VC with a few tours in enterprise land, I also have some Opinions™ on corporate venture capital (CVC).
I previously led Visa Ventures, which was a blast. We invested in some transformative companies and helped incubate innovative new products, but after leaving to build another company , I wasn’t sure whether I’d return to CVC.
Doing CVC well is not easy, and to be honest most programs end up pretty mediocre despite the best of intentions. Having been on both sides of the table as entrepreneur, angel investor and BigCo rep, I also know the challenges of dealing with large enterprises. As such, it is particularly important to me to be a good representative of the company and always be straightforward with founders.
I knew that if I was ever going to do CVC again, it had to be under a special set of circumstances.
I’ve had a longstanding hypothesis that if a large corporation were actually able to work *effectively* with startups, combining the innovation + speed of a startup with the distribution + scale of a BigCo could be magic.
In practice, however, I’ve mostly found there is a “battle between every startup and incumbent [that] comes down to whether the startup gets distribution before the incumbent gets innovation.” (hat tip Alex Rampell of a16z)
Just because it’s hard to create a bridge between startups & incumbents doesn’t mean it’s impossible, and that brings us back to M12, Microsoft, and one of the most interesting moments in technology in our lifetimes.
Microsoft has been transformed under Satya Nadella’s leadership. His embrace of startups, and the bet he and the company have made around artificial intelligence and the future of technology is one of the most bold and inspiring things I’ve ever witnessed.
The Microsoft + OpenAI relationship, for one, seems to prove my longstanding hypothesis that startups & incumbents, working together effectively, can transform the world at a speed and scale unlike anything else.
In the brief time I’ve been at M12, I have seen Microsoft move with a focus and urgency I previously thought was reserved only for startups. That effort is matched only by the genuine enthusiasm M12 has for entrepreneurs building transformative companies.
At M12, I have the amazing privilege to invest in and partner with entrepreneurs who are building the future.
But beyond just capital, we also get to offer the full range of Microsoft’s resources for the benefit of startups & founders.If you’re a B2B startup in SaaS, AI, cybersecurity, DevOps, or web3 & gaming, raising a seed through series B funding, I’m investing & want to hear from you. Contact me via this website, Twitter DM, or at my M12 email: peterberg [at] m12.vc