Microsoft CFO Connors Turns VC

Justin Hibbard

After 16 years at Microsoft, John Connors, the software company's chief financial officer, will join Bellevue, Wash.-based VC firm Ignition Partners in April. He'll be among familiar company. Ignition was founded in 2000 by former Microsofties Brad Silverberg, Richard Tong, Jonathan Roberts, and Cameron Myhrvold and former McCaw Cellular executives. "I hope I don't let these guys down," Connors says.

Connors has never worked as a VC before, but he brings the kind of Rolodex that tantalizes hungry entrepreneurs. At Microsoft, he has managed long-standing relationships with some of the world's largest buyers of tech products, like General Motors, Nike, The Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and the U.S. Army. "I would expect the relationships will continue [at Ignition]," he says. Startups look to their VCs for those kinds of connections to jump-start sales.

Some of entrepreneurial life will be new to Connors. "I've never run a [software] development project per se," he says. But he's not purely a numbers guy. Before his stint as CFO, he was Microsoft's chief information officer and oversaw mind-numbingly technical projects like installing SAP software throughout the company. At Ignition, he'll focus on investments in business software and services startups.

Connors' move to Ignition has been in the works for a while. When Ignition finished raising its third fund ($300 million in committed capital) last October, it listed Connors as a partner in the fund's legal paperwork. Connors says he'll work closely with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer over the next three months to ensure a smooth transition to the next CFO, which the company has not yet hired.

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