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Silverberg heads clutch of MS defectors at VC outfit

Lads with shared shady past and Softbank e-bucks aim to boost wireless startups

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Brad Silverberg, the top Microsoft exec who piloted Windows 95 to launch and then sat in his tent on "extended leave" for two years, has popped up again as head of Ignition, a sort of post-PC VC outfit specialising in wireless. The company, which has initial working capital of $140 million, is also backed by Qualcomm, Softbank VC and the Madrona Venture Group, and in addition to Silverberg houses a clutch of recently departed high-powered MS execs. On board we have Cameron Myhrvold, John Ludwig and Jonathan Roberts. Ludwig had been in IE development prior to drawing the MSN Death Card in the MS Consumer and Commerce Group. Myhrvold left last year after a particularly inglorious performance as a trial witness, while Roberts used to be Mr CE, before which he was involved in the IE integration loop. Silverberg himself must know where a lot of the bodies are buried, but although a number of interesting-sounding documents with his name on appear in the trial exhibits list, he was never hauled before the Beak by the DoJ. Whatever, Ignition seems to be an interesting group of former MS execs with a shared shady past, plus a couple of others from the US wireless business: Steve Hooper, former CEO of McCaw Cellular, and Kathy Iskra, former CFO of Nextlink. Cameron's brother Nathan also has money in Ignition, as has Rob Glaser of RealNetworks. Rob windmilled around on the opposing team for a little during the trial, but he and Nathan (who we think is currently on sabbatical from MS, but we've lost track) are both on Ignition's advisory board. Silverberg claims the company will be making big investments in key wireless technology startups, and rather than cashing and running will be in there "for the long haul." We'll believe that one when we see it. ®

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