Venture capital firm

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

said

Colin Powell

, the secretary of state during

President Bush's

first term and a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has become a strategic limited partner.

In a statement on the firm's Web site, Powell said: "I've been privileged to work with good people on important missions, and have known KPCB entrepreneurs and partners for years. Those entrepreneurs have passion for clear missions -- building innovative, global businesses that better the world. I welcome the opportunity to help develop global leaders who deliver powerful innovation where we need it most."

Powell, 68, became secretary of state in 2001. He served in the military for 35 years and rose to the rank of four-star general.

His last assignment, from October 1989 to September 1993, was as chairman of the Joint Chiefs, during which time he oversaw Operation Desert Storm in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Powell earned a bachelor's degree in geology from the City College of New York and an MBA from George Washington University.

Kleiner Perkins was founded in 1972. The California-based firm has backed more than 450 ventures, including

AOL

,

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

,

Compaq

,

Electronic Arts

(ERTS)

and

Genentech

(DNA)

. More than 150 of the firm's portfolio companies have gone public at some point.