andrew.jpgYahoo, the Sunnyvale search engine trying to stem shrinkage of its market share in search, has lost a key search executive to a venture capital firm.

Andrew Braccia quietly quit as Yahoo’s vice president of consumer web search earlier this month, and begins tomorrow (Monday) with Accel Partners, a well-known Silicon Valley venture capital firm.

The departure comes after a particularly tough time for Yahoo and Microsoft, both ceding ground to Google in search (see most recent data here). In the last month, Microsoft’s search property has seen two top executives leave.

Braccia, 31, was responsible for all business and operational aspects of Yahoo’s consumer search business, having reported to executive vice president Jeff Weiner for six years. He played a key role launching Yahoo Answers, generally considered a big success, having snuffed Google’s efforts in the same area.

He told VentureBeat Sunday that he became attracted to venture capital after working with multiple start-ups over the years. He helped acquire several of them, including and Flickr — two properties that reflected Yahoo decisive entry into a more “social” area of search. He also helped integrate Inktomi, Overture and Alta Vista. Another reason for departing is longevity. He joined Yahoo in 1998, straight out of college, when it had just several hundred employees. It now has more than 11,000. He also once ran the marketplace division, leading Yahoo’s shopping, travel, real estate and autos properties.

He says he’s passionate about the consumer Internet, and says he believes we’re still at the very early stages of a move of the consumer audience online. Under 20 percent of consumer media engagement is online, and that percentage will grow “dramatically” over the next three to five years, he said. He’s already talking big ideas. He said soon we wouldn’t be having phone conversations, but instead be “connecting our brains together.” ;)

At Accel, he’ll be a principal, and will help the firm’s consumer Internet investors manage a portfolio of investments that include Glam Media, Facebook, BitTorrent, and others.

In December, Yahoo saw a major executive shuffle, which saw several other executives leave.

Update: Braccia’s replacement as VP of search is Vish Makhijani. According to Yahoo, Vish was previously the VP of search marketing international and international monetization, and prior to that, Vice President and General Manager of Yahoo’s consumer international search business. Before joining Yahoo, he was Vice President and General Manager of Inktomi web search.

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