An interview with Ido Engel, Azure Business Group lead at Microsoft, Ariel Negrin, Azure ISV business strategy and Go-To-Market lead, and Idit Gazit Berger, Head of Digital Native and High-Tech, Middle East & Africa (MEA) at Microsoft
Microsoft Israel was founded in 1989 and serves as the local branch of Microsoft. In 2021 Microsoft became the largest company in the world, with a total cloud revenue surpassing the combined revenue of its two key competitors (namely AWS and GCP) combined. Its cloud network is by far the largest network in the world today, with an unprecedented footprint in the enterprise world.
Why is Israel such a key country for Microsoft?
The Israeli high-tech ecosystem continued breaking records in 2021, going into 2022, further establishing Israel’s position as a global innovation hub that’s here to stay.
There’s a unique ecosystem in Israel that enables and fuels this tremendous growth, starting from young school students, continuing with army soldiers and officers, going on to higher education students, engineers, architects, entrepreneurs and managers across government and the various branches of the Israeli tech industry. For many reasons, this ecosystem is an engine for entrepreneurship and ongoing
At Microsoft, we see it as our duty to provide value to this entire ecosystem using our entire portfolio of products and services so that it can continuously reach its full potential. That’s also one of the reasons we’re the first company to introduce a hyper scale data center to Israel, that’s a big statement of trust by Microsoft.
What do you have to offer to young tech companies?
Well, first of all, it’s important to say that the relationship we have with our clients, small or large, is far more than just being their cloud provider.
As former entrepreneurs we know how resource-strained a young company usually is;
At inception, it’s strained for cash, strained with human capital, and so we’re offering pre-seed and seed stage companies technical, commercial and business development support they desperately need. For once, fast time to market: On the technical side, we’re helping them focus on R&D productivity, boosting their time to market. We’re there with them from the first line of code with Visual Studio Code, helping them collaborate with each other and the open-source community through GitHub, and all the way to production with Azure. We’re focused on putting developers at the front and giving them as many tools to run an agile dev process that caters to scale and security. Obviously, co-developing a solution with Microsoft on its cloud platform yields its’ benefits as the startup grows and creates a mutual interest with the world’s largest cloud. A bit more about that shortly.
Secondly, there's the founders hub: on the commercial and business development front, we’ve recently introduced Founders Hub, which helps remove traditional barriers to building a company with free access to the technology, coaching and support they need. It includes Azure credits, GitHub Enterprise, Microsoft 365 and personalized guidance on not only technical matters but also on hiring, go to market, raising capital and more.
We see it as our duty to provide value to this entire ecosystem using our entire portfolio of products and services so that it can continuously reach its’ full potential. That’s also one of the reasons we’re the first company to introduce a hyper scale data center to Israel. That’s a big statement of trust by Microsoft
How do you help more established companies?
Well, once a company has hit product-market fit, they’re at a different game. One of the key factors that’s constantly on their mind is the price of capital. And so, for every million dollars they make at the top line revenue, they get multipliers in valuation - which in turn is translated to cheaper capital access from investors.
As said, we have mutual interest with a company that’s built its product on our cloud, and so at that stage we’re intensifying our business relationship with the startup: if they know what product to sell and to whom then we can co-market together. We do so by driving them into the Co-Selling program - onboarding them to our marketplace - so they instantly become a certified supplier to the world’s largest enterprises.
We can also run co-marketing activities with them. Making sure that they are exposed to their target market with the trusted brand name of Microsoft having their back. And so, instantly they become enterprise-ready at scale, as we invest a lot in conforming to all the various industries and regulations. Eventually, many companies in Israel become unicorns, and that’s where we’re both making sure they can scale exponentially at no notice and introduce them to whoever is relevant in Microsoft corporation to open more opportunities for them.
In total, this is how we support every stage of a high-tech company’s development.
Ido Engel is Azure Business Group lead at Microsoft Israel. Prior to his work at Microsoft, Ido co-founded Wisdo, a direct-to-consumer digital health startup, where he was COO and CMO. Before founding Wisdo, Ido founded and managed a Global Cloud Analytics Business Unit at IBM, based in London. He built Sales, Marketing, Deployment, and Support capacities of Cloud-based IBM technology assets. Ido was the Director of the Hebrew University’s Entrepreneurship program, working with the local VCs and startup community.
Ariel Negrin is Azure ISV business strategy and Go-To-Market lead - in charge of driving global business growth for Microsoft’s Israeli strategic ISVs. In his previous roles, Ariel was collaborating and driving partner strategy with strategic partners - global & local – in charge of partner sales for the entire Israeli enterprise segment at Microsoft. During
multiple roles in Microsoft, Ariel gained rich industry and technology experience where he created technology, cloud and risk strategies for financial and ISV organizations in Israel. Before Microsoft Ariel led the cloud computing practice and infrastructure at the MOD.
Idit Gazit Berger works at Microsoft Corp. as Head of Digital Native and High-Tech part of Middle East and Africa Leadership Team. In her role, Idit is responsible to form and execute MS strategy supporting technology companies’ life cycle, from the pre-seed stage to the large Enterprise. Idit joined MS UK 14 years ago and held few roles
supporting the UK subsidiary before moving to EMEA HQ to be the Azure sales lead for Europe, Middle East and Africa. 4 years ago, Idit joined Middle East & Africa HQ initially as Independent Software Vendor (ISV) lead and then was appointed as MEA Partner Technical Director, leading all technical resources supporting MS partners.
Photos by Alona Abisdris Shillo