Kara Swisher

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Exclusive: Comcast's Top Digital Exec Amy Banse to Open New Silicon Valley Equity Fund for Cable Giant and NBC

Amy Banse, currently the president of Comcast Interactive Media, is shifting into a job as head of a new Silicon Valley-based equity fund aimed at making digital investments for the television cable giant, as well as its new NBC Universal unit, according to sources with knowledge of the plans.

While most of the attention related to the soon-to-be-completed merger of Comcast with NBC U has been on the musical chairs of its high-profile news and entertainment divisions, this move is potentially significant for the companies by putting a stake in the ground–and a presence–for it on the West Coast.

As part of the shift, sources said, Banse will be charged with combining two existing corporate investment funds: NBC U’s Peacock Equity and Comcast Interactive Capital.

The New York-based Peacock Equity is a $250 million fund that was founded as a joint venture in 2007 by GE Capital and NBC U.

Its investments have ranged from $3 million to $25 million each, including a lot of online advertising start-ups such as Adify and the Rubicon Project.

Comcast Interactive Capital–founded in 1999 and based in Philadelphia, where Comcast’s HQ is–has $500 million under management.

It has focused on broadband, interactive and enterprise businesses.

According to its Web site, “early successful investments” include About.com, CitySearch, Half.com, TiVo, and VeriSign.”

Current investments include SB Nation, BlackArrow and JiWire.

It is not clear how much more money the new still-unnamed equity fund will raise, but it will be aimed at early-stage companies, said sources.

The combined fund will debut by the end of the year or early next year.

Banse’s shift to become a VC comes after many years of leading Comcast’s online strategy, which has included the acquisition of the Fandango movie ticketing site and Daily Candy, an email newsletter.

She has also been in charge of the development and management of Comcast’s many Web sites, including Comcast.net, Xfinity.com and Fancast.

MediaMemo’s Peter Kafka recently reported that the high-profile Banse was moving out of her post, which was being split up into two jobs.

Many thought she would likely depart the company, but it appears she will stay for a while longer at least.

As it happens, Banse will be in San Francisco this week for the Web 2.0 conference, so please be sure to give her a warm welcome and explain “Fear the Beard” to a likely Phillies fan-atic.

And just to get acquainted in advance, here is her bio from the Comcast Web site:

Amy Banse serves as President of Comcast Interactive Media (CIM), a division of Comcast Corporation that is responsible for developing and operating online tools and businesses focused on entertainment, information and communication.

Since founding CIM in December of 2005, Ms. Banse has led Comcast’s online strategy, overseeing the acquisition of Fandango (the movie ticketing site), Daily Candy (the popular email newsletter), Plaxo (the smart contacts site), and thePlatform (the industry-leading provider of digital media publishing solutions) as well as the in-house development and management of, Comcast.net and xFinity.com(Comcast’s portals), Fancast, (a leading tv entertainment site), xFinitytv (Comcast ‘s online video portal), and Swirl (Daily Candy’s sample sales site). In this role, she has grown CIM into an 800 person team with significant digital capabilities and has played a key part in the industry’s development of its TV Everywhere strategy and in Comcast’s execution of that strategy, Fancast/xFinitytv.

Ms. Banse joined Comcast in 1991 as an in-house attorney responsible for programming acquisition. Most recently she served as Executive Vice President of Content Development where she oversaw the development of Comcast’s cable network portfolio including the company’s investments in E! Entertainment Television, The Golf Channel, and VERSUS and the development and launch of G4, PBS KIDS Sprout, TV One and Comcast’s sports networks.

Ms. Banse has represented CIM and Comcast as a featured speaker in venues around the country discussing the rapid evolution of content consumption in a digital world and the opportunities and challenges facing the cable and entertainment industries. She has been named among the “Most Powerful Women in Cable” and the “Top Programmers to Watch” by CableWorld magazine. She has also been named among the Cable 100 by Multichannel News and the Digital Power list, by The Hollywood Reporter. She was honored as a “Wonder Woman” by Multichannel News and Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) in 2004, received WICT’s Geraldine B. Laybourne Fearless Award in 2009 and ProMax’s Brand Builder Award in 2010 Ms. Banse sits on the Board of The Morris Arboretum and Springside School for Girls. In 2007 she received “The Distinguished Alumni Award” from Springside School, and in 2006 she was honored by Girls, Inc. as an outstanding role model for girls during their annual Celebration Luncheon. Ms. Banse is also a member of The Forum of Executive Women, the Philadelphia region’s premier women’s organization.

Ms. Banse received a BA from Harvard University and a JD from Temple University Law School. She and her husband and their four children live in Philadelphia.


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