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CBS Internet chief Quincy Smith to leave

The man who oversaw $1.8 billion acquisition of CNET is stepping down to return to his gig advising new media companies.

Quincy Smith, CEO of CBS Interactive is stepping down to become an adviser and may also return to his roots in banking. CBS Interactive

Quincy Smith, the one-time banker and trusted adviser to new media poobahs, will leave his current post as chief executive of CBS Interactive in January to work once again as a consultant.

Smith plans to start his own advisory business and not surprisingly, the start-up's first customer is CBS, he said in an interview with CNET on Wednesday. Smith will focus on helping CBS with its Web video strategy.

Smith, whose most notable move while at CBS was helping to oversee the $1.8 billion acquisition of CNET, the parent company of this publication, said the reason he's choosing to leave now is to pursue opportunities he sees in banking and technology. Besides advising new media chieftains, Smith also suggested he's ready to stick a toe back into finance.

"I think CBS is at a point where I can help them from the playing field more than I can from the dugout, if you don't mind the baseball reference," Smith said. "I was a banker before and I think I can be a better banker...I see a lot of opportunities out there now for smaller banks as well as larger ones."

Before being hired to oversee CBS's digital division three years ago, Smith already had a reputation as a tech guru while working for Allen & Co, the respected boutique banking firm that was one of the underwriters for Google's initial public offering.

In the deal for CNET, critics blasted CBS for overpaying. But Smith noted that the acquisition helped turn CBS Interactive into the 12th largest Internet property, and a top 5 video property, according to comScore Media Metrix.

CBS Interactive President Neil Ashe will take over Smith's responsibilities.

Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS said: "Quincy helped put CBS Interactive on the map."

The blog All Things Digital first reported the news of Smith's departure.