The man’s official title is corporate vice president for Strategic and Emerging Business Development, which is quite a mouthful, but in a nutshell he manages Microsoft’s relationships with startup and investment communities all around the world in addition to business relationships with the likes of Adobe, IBM, Apple and Google (he actually went to college with the latter’s chairman, Eric Schmidt).
Did I mention he’s also the lead executive of Microsoft’s Silicon Valley offices (2,500 people today and growing) and a corporate board member of the National Venture Capital Association?
The interview focused primarily on BizSpark, Microsoft’s global startup accelerator program that provides fledgling companies with resources such as free or discounted software or cloud services, in addition to access to the software giant’s broad partner network and as much marketing visibility as they can give them.
Through BizSpark, Microsoft has helped over 40,000 companies from 100+ countries in about two and a half years. About a third of those (12,000) are located in Europe.
Microsoft doesn’t actually take stakes in the companies it backs through the BizSpark program.
Rather, they count on companies sticking with Microsoft products and services in the long run, which helps the software company generate revenues through maintenance fees and whatnot.
Hence, they need as many companies joining BizSpark as possible, and investing cash into businesses would only complicate things, Lewin explains.
That said, startups often raise financing from professional investors down the line – in fact, roughly between $600 and $700 million has gone to BizSpark startups over the past two years.
Some of the BizSpark startups you might have heard of: Evernote, Loopt, Cheezburger, Kobo, Curse.com, Yammer, Graphic.ly, Kobojo, Lokad and Seesmic.
Lewin and I also talked about Microsoft’s M&A activity (he says they’ve purchased “a lot more” companies than what has been disclosed by the company). And yes, as a board member of the NVCA, I just had to ask if he thinks there’s currently a bubble in tech. Enjoy: