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Ant Bytes — AA09

John Fernandes

“Genghis Khan started with a tribe of seventeen people, including his mother. He conquered everything. It seems to me you don’t need much in life other than enthusiasm and your mum.”
Stuart Wilde – author, The Secrets of Life

QUICK QUESTIONS: ‘John Fernandes’

John Fernandes is the Director of International Business Development at Microsoft Corporation, where he works with venture capitalists and start-up communities worldwide. He visited Australia late last year as the special guest speaker at a series of Australian Anthill/Microsoft-hosted events for the venture capital community. What does your role at Microsoft Corporation entail? How does your team operate?

We are not a VC fund but work with VCs to help their portfolio gain access to Microsoft. We look primarily at their software investments and look for points of intersection where we can partner from an architecture/development, business development, training, marketing/sales perspective and act as a single point of contact for navigating the maze that is Microsoft.

Has the program been successful – how many organizations look to partner with Microsoft through your group?

This has been a successful venture for Microsoft. More importantly, VCs and startups tell us they see value. We, like VCs, see hundreds of companies a year and we’ve posted the success stories at www.microsoft.com/startups. You can also find out more at https://partner.microsoft.com/empower

How do you reassure a start-up that Microsoft will not pinch their idea?

My experience has proven that openness and transparency are the way to go. If you like what you see, contact us. But if now is not the right time for you, we understand. We’ve talked to hundreds of VCs and start-ups on the way, and they will testify to their positive relationship with Microsoft.

What are your observations about the state of the Australian

VC and ICT start-up markets?

I liked what I saw and I’ll be back to lend a hand and to expand Microsoft’s efforts. VCs I met during my trip expressed an openness to work with us and immediately understood what we are trying to do. Start-ups are eager to engage and are quick to help us help them by doing their homework and working through the process we have in place.


If necessity is the mother of invention, then humiliation is a close midwife.

The French are not known for taking national pride lightly and one of the cornerstones of Gallic dignity – the nation’s reputation as a leading wine producer and exporter – has taken a beating in recent times thanks to high quality wine exports from Australia, among other countries.

Faced with the rather unpalatable dilemma of what to do with a surplus “wine lake” resulting from flagging sales of vino, the French government (under pressure from desperate vintners) is considering a proposal to convert 66 million gallons of mostly high-quality wine into industrial use alcohol for use in car fuel.

Beleaguered French winemakers claim that relative newcomers to wine drinking in Australia, South Africa, the United States and China currently prefer the simple taste of their own produce, but as their palette matures they will flock back to the rich complexity of French wines.

Until then, French winemakers might do well to install a few bowsers at their Chateaus, at least until the Barbarians come to their senses. Or perhaps a second job driving taxis. They will certainly have a story to tell and plenty of cheap fuel.

Who said drink and driving don’t mix?