Microsoft’s next moves: Biz dev and strategy leader Christopher Young is focusing on these key areas

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Christopher Young, Microsoft’s executive vice president of business development, strategy and enterprise, speaks at the 2021 GeekWire Summit in Seattle. (Geekwire Photo/Kevin Lisota)

Christopher Young’s priorities are a window into the future of Microsoft’s business.

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Young, former CEO of McAfee and A veteran of the cyber security industry, joined Microsoft a year ago as Executive Vice President of Business Development, Strategy and Enterprise. He and his team oversee strategic partnerships, investments, and acquisitions, working with Microsoft’s business and product teams to anticipate and support the company’s future needs.

Recent examples include Microsoft’s $19.7 billion acquisition of Nuance Communications, its investment and partnership with Seattle-based healthcare data startup Truveta, and Microsoft in GM’s Cruise as part of a broader cloud partnership with the self-driving car company. investment of.

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Within the scope of early-stage investments, Young’s group also includes Microsoft’s M12 Venture Capital Fund, which has made more than 100 investments since its inception five years ago, and Named Michel Gonzalez as its new leader in June.

“The way we think about our mission as part of the company is to think about three, five, seven, 10 years in terms of a roadmap, to drive long-term growth opportunities and where We have to be as a company, Young said during an onstage interview at GeekWire Summit last week.

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With this in mind, he identified several areas where he and his team are focusing.

The future of work, communication and collaboration: “We are in the early stages of what the new form of work will look like in the long run,” Young said.

He and his team are helping develop partnerships and build an ecosystem around Microsoft Teams. At the same time, Microsoft is looking to expand Teams into the consumer market beyond the workplace by adopting the technology for personal use.

artificial intelligence: AI is “redefining much of what we do,” Young said, calling it “a huge area of ​​change and opportunity” across many industries.

Microsoft’s Nuance. agreement to acquire reflects this focus. Voice recognition and natural language processing technology are key elements for AI.

One example that predates Young’s tenure is the company’s $1 billion investment in OpenAI, which includes an ongoing partnership that gives Microsoft early access to GPT-3 natural language processing technology.

Microsoft’s Work on Responsible AI It also affects the attitude of your group, Young said.

Health and Life Sciences: Microsoft’s work in the health and life sciences ranges from patient care to new technologies for drug discovery and development.

Young cited Microsoft’s partnerships with Harvard, Alphabet’s Verily and MIT’s Broad Institute to advance the Terra biomedical research platform as another example of the company’s efforts in this area.

quantum computing: The long-term impact of quantum computing could be even greater in the future, but in addition to its own research and development, Microsoft is laying the groundwork through deals Like M12’s investment in Silicon Valley startup PsiQuantum.

Cyber ​​security: Is it a coincidence that Microsoft has chosen a cybersecurity industry veteran as its new business development leader? Young’s experience has helped inform the company’s acquisitions of cybersecurity companies, including RiskIQ, cloudnox, and Refirm Labs.

Cyber ​​security is “a core commitment” to Microsoft, Young said.

The company recently hired Charlie Bell, a former Amazon Web Services executive, to lead a new security, compliance, identity and management group that brings together many of its existing teams in those areas.

“I don’t have a specific cybersecurity-oriented role at Microsoft, but all the work we do in the space gives me the opportunity to spend a lot of time on it,” Young said. “It’s part of my life’s work, so it’s not something that I think I’ll be completely aside of.”

Full videos of sessions with Chris Young and other GeekWire Summit speakers are available on demand to paid attendees. You can register as a virtual participant here.

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