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Benchmark adds open-source savvy Entrepreneurs in Residence

Benchmark Capital is becoming the go-to venture firm for open source, says CNET Blog Network contributor Matt Asay.

If you're looking for a seasoned, open-source savvy executive team, you might look to MySQL or another leading open-source company. But if you want that team to come with investment dollars attached, you'd do far better to look to Benchmark Capital. In addition to Kevin Harvey (MySQL, Red Hat, etc.) and Peter Fenton (JBoss, Hyperic, SpringSource, etc.), Benchmark just added four new EIRs (Entrepreneurs in Residence), two of which will focus on open-source investment opportunities.

Benchmarks's Bob Kagle notes the importance of EIRs:

By bringing seasoned executives into the firm to found new businesses or work with our portfolio companies, everyone benefits. They understand the challenges of running a start-up, and demonstrate by example what it takes to build, manage and lead fast-growth technology companies.

This is particularly true in open source, given the relative dearth of understanding of how to build a successful open-source business. Anyone who needs a hand in doing so will almost certainly want to tap into one of Benchmark's new EIRs: Rob Bearden.

Bearden is, of course, JBoss' former chief operating officer. While he won't be driving his dualie out to Palo Alto to drag University Avenue (against Fenton's Aston Martin :-), having phone and personal access to Bearden is a huge win for Benchmark's portfolio companies, whether open-source vendors or not.

Benchmark also added Lewis Cirne as an EIR. Cirne was the founder and CEO of Wily Technology and will be partly focused on open source and partly focused on Web infrastructure. He'd be an ideal person to work with the "Web 2.0" companies in Benchmark's portfolio who leverage open source to help power the Web.

I don't know Cirne but I do know Bearden. Benchmark is well-positioned for open-source companies, in particular, that are looking for a deep bench of open-source expertise.