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Microsoft exec now with VC firm

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers confirms that Peter Neupert is leaving the software giant to join the venture capital firm.

Peter Neupert, a leading force in Microsoft's foray into new media, will join Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as a "CEO in residence" starting next month, a partner in the Silicon Valley venture capital firm confirmed yesterday.

As reported, Neupert, vice president of news and publishing in Microsoft's interactive media group, will leave the software giant after 11 years. He played a key role in founding MSNBC's Internet and joint cable ventures, as well as the management of Slate. He also headed advertising and sales for Microsoft's online properties.

"I'm all for new experiences in the middle of life," Slate editor Michael Kinsley said of Neupert's departure. "He decided it would be fun to be his own boss. I'm sorry for myself. He was very supportive of Slate in the corridors of power here."

It marks another departure of a Microsoft executive. Neupert will work from an office in Seattle. Microsoft did not specifically identify where Neupert was headed.

"We've known [Neupert] a long time. He's going to work on a bunch of stuff," said Kleiner Perkins partner Brook Byers, confirming an earlier report by CNET NEWS.COM. "He has an interest in e-commerce and will dabble in that area."

Kleiner Perkins already has a former Microsoft veteran as one of its partners. Russ Siegelman joined the venture capital firm after seven years at the software giant.

Siegelman helped launched LAN Manager, Microsoft's first network operating system, and became the first employee of Microsoft Network. He worked directly for CEO Bill Gates.

Byers said it was he, not Siegelman, who recruited Neupert to Kleiner Perkins. Neupert was not available for comment.

Kleiner Perkins has offered a CEO-in-residence program for about 20 years, helping to recruit CEOs for companies that it finances--a big challenge for the VC community. Sources said Neupert ultimately is expected to head a start-up funded by Kleiner Perkins, perhaps focusing on the Web and software.

The venture capital firm's other CEOs in residence have included Jerry Held, previously from Oracle; Dan Eilers, an Apple graduate; and Bill Campbell of Intuit.