Microsoft Ventures invests in AI with Element AI, adds six more companies to portfolio

Arif Bacchus

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Nagraj Kashyap, the Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Ventures has announced that the company has further invested in AI with new funding for Canadian company Element AI. The announcement represents another significant commitment by Microsoft to democratize AI and also brings a new Microsoft Ventures fund for investment in AI companies focused on inclusive growth and positive impact on society.

The first investment in the new fund is with Element AI, an incubator, and platform that helps organizations embrace an AI-first strategy. It is also the first part of supporting Microsoft’s AI principles which were highlighted by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella back in June of this year.

According to Microsoft, with the investment in Element AI, the two companies can work together connect human and machine intelligence to fuel powerful solutions. The new fund expands on the original mandate of supporting cloud companies that help enterprises navigate digital transformation, will bring investments of similar size to previous Microsoft Ventures investments, and will only include businesses with promise for strong financial returns.

According to Kashyap, since October, Microsoft has also closed five investments in the U.S. and one in Israel. The investments (in a total of 19 inspiring companies) show Microsoft’s full immersion in the global startup community.

  • i3 Equity Partners – an investment vehicle dedicated to early-stage investments in Israeli IoT startups
  • Zipwhip – a SaaS provider that enables businesses to send and receive text messages on existing landline, VoIP and toll-free phone numbers
  • Paxata – a platform provider that enables business analysts with an enterprise-grade, self-service data preparation system
  • xAd – a location intelligence software company that helps marketers unlock opportunities in the 90 percent of retail transactions that are still completed offline
  • Dynamic Signal – a communications platform company that increases productivity and employee engagement with timely, relevant content across multiple channels and devices
  • Tact – a sales experience platform that transforms a salesperson’s connected device into an AI-powered smart assistant

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has previously outlined several principles and goals for AI, and these goals are set to drive the Microsoft Venture fund moving forward.  The CEO also is pushing AI as Microsoft’s next big thing and has said that he believed AI is part of the goal of empowering people in organizations all over the world to achieve more.

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