Microsoft Chairman Brings the Cloud to Lightspeed Ventures

  • John Thompson has served as chairman of Microsoft since 2014
  • The cloud computing market is projected to reach $411B by 2020

Microsoft’s (MSFT +1.11%) board chairman John Thompson is joining Lightspeed Ventures in a part-time advisory role. The venture capital firm is known for being Snap’s (SNAP -0.46%) first investor. Thompson becomes the second prominent African American executive to join a venture capital firm this year, following Ken Chenault who joined General Catalyst in January. How will Thompson’s latest move impact the technology industry?

Why This Matters: John Thompson joining Lightspeed Ventures signals the firm may begin increasing its investments in cloud computing startups. In February, Thompson joined the board of Rubrik, a Lightspeed portfolio company. Rubrik provides clients with the software and hardware they need to archive their data in the cloud or on their own servers. The industry refers to this as hybrid cloud computing.

Under Thompson’s leadership Microsoft’s cloud business reached $20 billion in annualized revenue, a year ahead of schedule in 2017. The company’s commercial cloud business earned $6 billion, a 58% year-over-year increase in its fiscal Q3 of 2018.

With Microsoft’s rapid growth in its cloud business, Thompson believes the broader industry is only scratching the surface of its potential. “While I’m quite pleased with the progress that Satya and the team at Microsoft have achieved, the reality is that this is the very, very early stage of the transition to the cloud,” said Thompson. The cloud computing market is set to reach $411 billion by 2020, according to Gartner.

Situational Awareness: Lightspeed Ventures announced in March that it would be raising $1.8B for two new funds. John Thompson’s prominence in the technology industry is likely to prove quite helpful in the firm securing the funding.

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