Seattle’s Madrona Taps Former Microsoft Executive DelBene

Former Microsoft Corp. executive Kurt DelBene is joining Madrona Venture Group as a partner where he’ll help the Seattle-based firm identify new investments and work on strategy.

DelBene, most recently spent six months as senior adviser to the U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services, where he managed the Obamacare insurance enrollment program. Prior to that, he spent 21 years at Microsoft, most recently as president of the company’s Office division, before leaving in 2013 amid a reorganization.

Madrona focuses on early-stage technology companies in the U.S. Northwest. Founded in 1995, the firm’s past investments include Inc. and Redfin Corp., the online real-estate brokerage. DelBene said his time at Microsoft has given him experience in both consumer and enterprise businesses that he’ll be able to apply at Madrona. While at the software maker he also worked on starting up newer areas such as the cloud-based versions of Office.

“The tech community in the Seattle area is just exploding so it was an opportunity to feel like I could make a contribution while having fun as well,” he said by phone.

Seattle is in the midst of boom led by online businesses such as Zillow Inc., Blue Nile Inc. and Zulily Inc., as well as Amazon, that’s made it the fastest-growing among the top 50 U.S. cities.

DelBene said he was talking to Madrona when he left Microsoft and put the discussions on hold when President Barack Obama recruited him to improve the federal health exchange. He committed to a six-month effort there and asked Madrona to restart discussions with him when that finished.

He’s married to U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene, a Democrat from Washington state, who is running for re-election and is also a former Microsoft executive.