Beyond his work as a founder, Ma is a best-selling author and speaker who has applied his deep understanding of analytics to help professional sports teams like the San Francisco 49ers and the Portland Trail Blazers and media powerhouses like ESPN and Major League Baseball Advanced Media make better decisions using data.
We had the chance to catch up with Jeff and ask him a few questions.
Can you tell us what led you to Microsoft for Startups?
As a four-time founder myself, I understand and have deep empathy for the startup journey and what founders need to build a successful business. The prospect of working with startups with the incredible backdrop of Microsoft was extremely exciting.
Before I was even approached about the position, I was speaking with a friend about Microsoft’s resurgence in the past few years. We discussed how under Satya’s leadership the company’s culture has evolved in a meaningful way. By culture, I mean the cumulative effect of what people within the company do and more importantly how they do it. When I began to meet with people within the company, I was struck by their commitment to diversity and inclusion. The level of investment in supporting traditionally underrepresented communities was something that really resonated with me on a personal level.
What exactly does the Head of Microsoft for Startups do in role?
My responsibility will be to lead our Microsoft for Startups efforts in the 140 countries it services around the world. I’ll also work closely across the company to ensure that startups have pathways to learn about and leverage the best that Microsoft has to offer.
Is there a specific area that you’re passionate in supporting?
Earlier this year, Microsoft for Startups partnered with PitchBook and All Raise to launch a report that looked at the latest data and trends for gender diversity in the VC ecosystem. Analyzing 2019 data, the report delved into current investment trends across the US, looking at how valuations, investment sizes, time to exit and other measures differ by gender, as well as the impact women have as investors on the entrepreneurial gender gap. I’m looking forward to exploring how we can improve the equation for female founders in a substantive way.
What will be at the top of your list of action items?
From a technology standpoint, we currently offer startups up to $120k of Azure cloud credits as well as access to powerful tools like GitHub Enterprise and Visual Studio – I’ll be looking at ways we can expand that portfolio. On the business side, we offer a streamlined path for startups to sell alongside Microsoft. In the past year alone startups in the program are on track to secure over a $1BN dollars in sales opportunities. Particularly in today’s environment, I will be working with the team to make it dead simple for startups to connect their innovative solutions with Fortune 1000 companies.