Microsoft’s venture fund teams up with Melinda Gates for $6M Female Founders Competition
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Microsoft’s venture fund teams up with Melinda Gates for $6M Female Founders Competition

Microsoft’s venture arm M12 is launching one other Female Founders Competition, this time with some assist from Melinda Gates and Silicon Valley venture capital fund Mayfield.

The competitors will award $6 million to 4 female-founded corporations as a part of its purpose to “assist create a extra equitable taking part in area for modern feminine founders,” Peggy Johnson, Microsoft’s govt vice chairman of enterprise improvement, wrote in a blog post.

That’s up from $4 million that went to two startups last year. There will probably be a pair of $2 million awards for B2B enterprise tech startups, in addition to two $1 million awards for “deeptech” corporations. The competitors additionally now consists of entrepreneurs based mostly in India, along with the U.S., Europe, and Israel.

“It’s well-documented that women-led corporations ship larger returns over time than these based by males, but feminine founders — significantly of enterprise tech startups — proceed to obtain considerably much less entry to capital,” Johnson wrote. “Actually, final yr corporations based solely by ladies obtained solely 2.3% of the full capital invested in venture-backed startups. Whereas we’re seeing some pockets of progress, we as a VC neighborhood can do rather more to help and financially again innovation and concepts from women-led corporations.”

Additionally new this yr: Gates’ Pivotal Ventures funding agency and Mayfield are on board. Gates this month pledged $1 billion over the following 10 years to initiatives designed to speed up gender fairness in america.

Purposes for the competitors are open till Dec. 15. startups can apply here.

M12’s push to acknowledge feminine founders comes as Microsoft is dealing with an ongoing gender discrimination lawsuits introduced by present and former feminine technical staff.

Earlier this yr, an email thread surfaced wherein ladies at Microsoft shared tales of sexual harassment on the firm, as reported by Quartz. In response, CEO Satya Nadella vowed to overhaul how Microsoft investigates employee misconduct.

Microsoft’s final reported diversity numbers present its headcount at 28 % ladies, as of June 2018.

M12, beforehand referred to as Microsoft Ventures, launched in 2016. The VC arm typically invests in early-stage B2B startups which are engaged on their Sequence A or Sequence B rounds, with investments starting from $2 million to $10 million. There are practically 80 startups in its portfolio.

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