The top 25: Nagraj Kashyap, head, M12 (formerly Microsoft Ventures)

Microsoft Ventures, the corporate venturing subsidiary of software producer Microsoft, was renamed M12 in April 2018 in a bid to set itself further apart from its parent’s accelerator initiative.

The rebranding came two years after Microsoft restructured Microsoft Ventures from a global network of accelerators into a full-fledged corporate venture capital unit under Nagraj Kashyap, corporate vice-president of Microsoft and global head of M12.

M12, which has already backed more than 80 startups in North America, Israel, Europe, Australia and India. Its most recent deals included customer service software provider Directly, on-demand workplace training provider GO1.com, artificial intelligence-equipped consultancy service provider FortressIQ and facial biometrics software developer Onfido.

Regarding GO1, Kashyap said in a statement: “GO1 has been critical for business continuity as organizations navigate the remote realities of Covid-19. The GO1 integration with Microsoft Teams offers a seamless learning experience at a time when 75 million people are using the application daily. We are proud to invest in a solution helping keep employees learning and businesses growing through this time.”

In addition, M12 invested in FarEye, the operator of a predictive logistics software platform, online fraud prevention technology provider Arkose Labs and digital wallet developer Bakkt.

Arkose’s technology can safeguard online transactions, according to Kashyap, who said: “With Arkoses end-to-end anti-fraud platform, enterprises across the globe can better protect against fraud and abuse long-term. Multiple Microsoft businesses are already benefiting from this innovative technology, and we are committed to supporting Arkoses accelerated growth.”

Kashyap, who has been involved in venture capital, software engineering, business development and management for more than two decades, is an active mentor and thought-leader in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, becoming a four-year board member of the US trade body National Venture Capital Association in 2019.

Kashyap has over two decades of experience in venture capital, business development, software engineering and management.

Prior to joining M12, Kashyap had been at semiconductor technology producer Qualcomm from 1989 to 2014. He joined Qualcomm’s corporate venturing arm, Qualcomm Ventures, in 2003, where he oversaw the North America ventures team until 2007 when he was appointed senior vice-president and head of global venturing.

During his tenure, Kashyap netted multiple $1bn exits, including social traffic and navigation application Waze, NetQin, a mobile device security provider subsequently renamed NQ Mobile, and motion processing chip developer InvenSense, and with plenty of others in the portfolio that have exited since his departure.

Kashyap grew the Qualcomm Ventures portfolio to more than 150 investments in 2015 from 10 in 2003 and established a well-regarded early-stage competition, QPrize, which rewards entrepreneurs around the world with prize money. Previously, he led business development on behalf of Qualcomm Research.

Kashyap began his career as a software engineer at Nortel, Motorola and 3Com/US Robotics before moving to management consulting firm PRTM, now part of PricewaterhouseCoopers. Interviewed by GCV in 2016, he said: “I started my career as a software engineer, and I am still a sort of recovering software engineer at this point, but I have moved on to a business role at previous companies.”

Kashyap earned an MBA from the Northwestern University’s JL Kellogg Graduate School of Management, a master of science in computer science from University of Texas at Austin, and a bachelor of engineering in computer science from University of Mysore.

GCV Powerlist 2020 PDF