Col Interactive veep Keeler ankles for Redleaf

Lynda Keeler has ankled her post as veep and general manager of Columbia TriStar Interactive, becoming one of the last of Hollywood’s original lineup of high-level Internet execs to exit for greener dot- com pastures.

Keeler has joined venture capitalist firm Redleaf Group as managing director and will open the company’s Los Angeles office together with Bridget Karlin, former co-founder and chairperson of business software and wireless technology developer Thinque Systems.

Duo will focus on identifying Internet startups and emerging technologies to invest in throughout the underserved Southern California market.

“We’re looking at companies that are very early in their formations — closer to the dorm room than the board room,” Keeler told Daily Variety, “basically, companies that take advantage of technology or help large corporations become more effective.”

New office is looking to ramp up to 12 staffers in the coming months. Karlin serves as senior director of Redleaf’s L.A. office. She continues as chairman of Thinque’s board. Redleaf has 150 employees nationwide.

“Redleaf Los Angeles has a winning leadership team, between Lynda and Bridget, to help early stage start- ups get off the ground and focus on what they know best: their business,” said John Kohler, co-CEO and managing director of Redleaf Group’s Pacific operations.

Web site midwife

Over the past four years at Sony, Keeler guided Columbia TriStar Interactive’s expansion, producing Web sites for the studio’s film and television projects.

The departure of the well-respected exec makes her the last of Sony’s original team of Internet execs to leave and one of only several original Hollywood studio ‘Net execs to have lasted this long.

Sony Online Entertainment prexy Lisa Simpson recently went to head up CBS’ Internet efforts; Columbia TriStar Interactive prexy Richard Glosser and Robert Tercek, senior VP of digital media at Columbia TriStar TV, have also left in the past year.

Departures have plagued Disney’s Web ventures. The dramatic ankling of Warner Bros. threesome Jim Moloshok, Jim Banister and Jeff Weiner from Entertaindom.com was the most recent high-profile ankling.

Keeler, however, said that as other execs left Sony, it gave her more opportunities and raised her value. “I picked up more responsibilities, so it helped me in the long run,” she said.

So long, not good-bye

New move isn’t good-bye to Sony, however. Keeler will continue to provide consulting services to Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment, the new division focusing on Web efforts.

“When you’re at Sony, it never truly leaves you,” Keeler said. “I’m leaving with very mixed emotions, but Redleaf captured my heart as an entrepreneur. I’m still giving them (Sony) access to my years, knowledge and contacts and Redleaf’s companies. I believe that Sony, of all the other media companies, will be the clear winner. It may not happen tomorrow, but it will. It has resources and reach and branding that other companies don’t have.”

Redleaf is looking to pump its $200 million in early Internet e-commerce and business to business startups, while also offering counsel and operational support. Company is backed by Safeguard Scientifics, GE Capital and Hewlett-Packard.

Company currently has offices in Saratoga, Calif.; Pittsburgh; New York City; Boston; Seattle; Raleigh, N.C.; and Reston, Va. Redleaf is now trying to raise an additional $400 million.

“Southern California has long been regarded as a sleeper community in regards to Internet talent,” Karlin said. “But that’s now changing. Companies are bubbling to the surface and venture capitalist firms are taking notice.”

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