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VC Firm Benchmark Hires Xfire's Cassidy

Venture capital firm Benchmark Capital, which has funded MMO studio Red 5 and Second Life creator Linden Labs, among others, has announced that former Xfire CEO Mike Cassidy has joined the firm as an Entrepreneur in Residence - a further hint to ne
Venture capital firm Benchmark Capital, which has funded MMO studio Red 5 and Second Life creator Linden Labs, has announced that former Xfire CEO Mike Cassidy has joined the firm as an Entrepreneur in Residence, leaving the game instant messenging firm he sold to Viacom/MTV in April 2006 for $110 million. Cassidy has co-founded, served as CEO, and led three consumer Internet companies to successful acquisitions before the Xfire deal, including Direct Hit, an Internet search engine that was acquired by Ask Jeeves, and Stylus Innovation, a creator of computer telephony tools and applications that was acquired by Artisoft. According to a statement from Benchmark, in his new role, Cassidy "...will evaluate new business opportunities in the consumer Internet market and assist Benchmark companies across the portfolio." Benchmark has been accumulating more than one game industry exec in recent months, having also hired Mitch Lasky, former executive vice president of Mobile and Online at Electronic Arts and a key exec at Jamdat, who became a general partner at Benchmark Capital in March. As well as MMO studio Red 5 and Second Life creator Linden Labs, Benchmark has also funded recently Gamasutra-interviewed Asian-imported MMO firm Gala Online, as well as Habbo Hotel originators Sulake Labs and online sports firm Power Challenge. "Mike's impressive track record of building great companies goes well beyond financial success alone," said Bill Gurley, general partner at Benchmark Capital. "With a clear focus on the end user and a willingness to take risks, he has repeatedly used cutting-edge technologies to pioneer new ways of delivering consumer services that in turn altered the dynamics of existing markets."

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