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Recruiting king recruited

David Beirne, a king among executive recruiters, has been recruited--as a venture capitalist.

Tech Industry

A king among recruiters has been recruited.

David Beirne, a partner with Ramsey/Beirne Associates and recruiter of such high-tech stars as Netscape Communications CEO Jim Barksdale and Bob Herbold, chief operating officer of Microsoft, has joined investment firm Benchmark Capital as a general partner.

Beirne is leaving the search firm with its nearly $20 million in annual revenues to take on the new role of a venture capitalist.

"After recruiting executives like Barksdale or Herbold, it's always been a pang for me not to be involved with the company further, from giving strategic input to building their management team," Beirne said.

In his role as general partner, Beirne will be involved in reviewing business plans, structuring the financial deals, and, of course, recruiting management teams for those companies, said Kevin Harvey, general partner with Benchmark.

"The venture business and recruiting business are not that much different," Harvey said. "And team-building is one of the value adds at our venture firm. David is universally recognized as the world's best recruiter, and he'll be an outstanding venture capitalist."

He noted that Beirne's Rolodex of names in the industry will be an added bonus to Benchmark in establishing contacts for partnerships and potential executives. Beirne said his interest in stepping into the venture capital arena began about five years ago, when he considered extending his firm's reach into funding young companies.

But about nine months ago, he determined that such a move would hurt the executive search firm. "We'd have the venture guys [who are also Ramsey/Beirne clients] saying that we're competing with them," Beirne said.

Although other venture firms had approached him about joining their ranks, he struck a deal with Benchmark because of its focus on positioning itself as a leader in capitalizing early-stage companies and its team approach to deals, rather than having specialists.

Beirne said he will maintain his role as chairman of Ramsey/Beirne and be involved to some degree in continuing to help with executive searches.

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