Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will visit Israel in February to headine the company's 2016 Think Next conference.
"It's a big, important event for us and for the industry, so we're very happy that he's coming," said Zack Weisfeld, General Manager of Microsoft Ventures Accelerators.
Think Next, an annual conference that showcases start-ups and new technologies, was born in Micosoft Venture's Israel offices, and has spread to other major hubs such as India. The event, which launched in 2009, is intended to strengthen Microsoft's role in the wider tech ecosystem, a goal that mirrors Nadella's strategy for the company.
The event, to be held on February 25, 2016, will represent Nadella's first visit to Israel since becoming CEO of the company in early 2014, though he previously visited in 2011. He will also meet customers, developers, and students.
In Nadella's previous role as Executive Vice President of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise group, responsible for building and running the company's Computing Platforms, Developer Tools and Cloud Computing Services, included responsibility for the Israel development center, and he knew its activity and management well.
In 2012, during his tenure as CEO, Nadella's predecessor Steve Ballmer spoke at a Think Next event in Israel as well.
Asked if Nadella's visit is a show of confidence in Israel, Weisfeld replied, "Yes, I think you can see it Microsoft's actions."
This year alone, Microsoft acquired five Israeli start-ups, three of which were cyber security companies. Among them were Adallom, acquired for a reported $320 million, and Secure Islands, for a reported $100-$150 million.
Reports swirled at the time that Microsoft was planning to base its central cyber security operations in Israel, but those reports remain unconfirmed.
Last week, TechChrunch reported that the company would lay off 60 Israeli employees working on HoloLens, its much-anticipated Augmented Reality headset, in order to focus development in the United States. The team developing the HoloLens technology in Israel was based on the acquisition of 3DV Systems from Elron Electronic Industries in 2009 for about $34 million.