Microsoft changes its mind and re-invites the startup it was planning to boot from its conference

Microsoft CEO Satya NadellaMicrosoftMicrosoft CEO Satya Nadella

Microsoft has changed its mind and is now asking startup Okta to come back and be a sponsor for Microsoft’s upcoming Ignite tech conference after all.

The change of heart comes after Business Insider reported that Okta was booted from its long-time spot as a sponsor.

“We have a lot of criteria we consider when reviewing sponsorships. We revisited the historical criteria and determined that Okta qualified for sponsorship opportunities. We’ve reached out to Okta and look forward to seeing them at Ignite,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Business Insider.

Okta was disinvited last week after Okta had already cut the check for sponsorship, CEO Todd McKinnon told us.

Now that Okta has been officially asked to come back, an Okta spokesperson says the company is rethinking if it still wants to be part of the show, “We haven’t committed. But they have reached out to open the dialogue.”

(We’re going to take a wild guess and say that Okta and Microsoft will come to an agreement and Okta will be quite visible at Ignite as it initially hoped to be.)

In that email, viewed by Business Insider, Microsoft explained that it was booting Okta because of “broad competition between our companies in the mobility solution space.”

Todd McKinnon Okta CEOOktaOkta CEO Todd McKinnon

Okta’s main product helps companies manage employee passwords for a bunch of different cloud services, and it also helps them manage mobile devices. Microsoft has recently introduced similar products and these products have been
key to the company’s cloud strategy.
However, Microsoft doesn’t have a policy to ban all competitors from sponsoring its shows. For instance, Cisco is a sponsor of Ignite and it competes with several Microsoft products, like Skype and Yammer.

We understand the dis-invite to Okta didn’t come from top Microsoft executives, and now that Okta is welcome again, it’s clear that Microsoft is not launching any sort of new policy banning competitors from its shows.

Ignite will be held from September 26 to 30 in Atlanta. It’s Microsoft’s biggest annual customer and partner conference concerning its cloud products.

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