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The dark prince of Silicon Valley has left the building. He says he’s “entering new space.” Longtime Microsoft foe Gary Reback has departed Palo Alto, Calif.’s Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati to head a new company now operating in a “stealth” mode. Reback, generally regarded by colleagues and litigation opponents as demanding and volatile, had been a Wilson Sonsini litigation partner since 1991. Before that, he was a partner at Wilson’s across-the-street rival, Fenwick & West. When he moved to Wilson, catty gossip had it that “the level of civility improved at both firms.” Reback will be CEO of Voxeo, which describes itself as “a stealth mode startup headquartered in Scotts Valley, Calif.” On the Voxeo Web site, at www.voxeo.com, a click on an icon for Silicon Valley reveals a page of unlabeled photos, including one of a grinning Reback in shirtsleeves in front of a laptop, a can of Diet Coke at his side. FULL-SERVICE INTERNET His chief business partner in Voxeo is Jonathan Taylor, former chief technology officer at MediaGate Inc., in San Jose, Calif. The new company’s products will be in the area of “Internet unified messaging,” according to Mr. Reback — “a combination of Web and telephone services.” Voxeo’s office space was once occupied by Borland International, a software company that Reback defended all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in a bitterly fought, but ultimately unsuccessful, copyright battle with Lotus Development Corp. Lotus v. Borland, 116 S. Ct., 804 (1996). Reback said that Borland’s build-out left the building “state of the art, with a lot of things Web-wise and telephone-wise in a plug-and-play configuration.” After the staggering defeat in the Lotus case, Borland was reincarnated as Inprise Corp., and last year it made a strategic alliance with Microsoft Corp. that included a $25 million purchase of Inprise stock by the software giant. That coziness between the two companies would have made highly unlikely any representation of Inprise by Reback, given his role in the mid-1990s in painting Microsoft as a major antitrust villain. Of those days, he said, “My assignment, as it were, was to educate people about this issue and to get the government interested. I do feel I accomplished that.” He predicted that the next big antitrust issue will involve business-to-business exchanges. He said that his departure from Wilson was amicable — so much so that the firm will represent Voxeo. He is not, however, taking anyone from Wilson with him.

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