Raymond J. Lane, a former top executive of

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

whose departure in June became a public relations debacle for the company, has joined the venture capital firm

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

.

Lane, 53, will become a general partner at the firm famous for bankrolling nascent software companies and making high profile investments in high-technology companies including

America Online

(AOL)

and

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

, Kleiner Perkins said Wednesday.

At Oracle, where he was promoted from executive vice president to president and chief operating officer, Lane was credited with expanding the company's business from database technology to software and professional services. He left the software giant on June 30, because he felt he wasn't able to make any executive decisions.

Since then, he has joined the board of

Sheer Networks

, a Sunnyvale, Calif. maker of telecommunications software. The company is backed by the venture capital group

Rein Capital

. Lane remains on the Oracle board.

Oracle initially said that Lane's departure had been planned and was held off because of a controversy over Oracle's hiring of a private detective agency to investigate organizations financed by

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

. But in a mid-July interview with the

Wall Street Journal

, Larry Ellison, Oracle's chairman, disclosed that Lane had in fact quit suddenly after being told that his responsibilities were being reduced.

"When he left Oracle, it was an obvious conversation," said Doug MacKenzie, a Kleiner Perkins partner, who worked with Lane at the consulting firm

Booz Allen & Hamilton

. The two men serve together on the board of the software company

Marimba

(MRBA)

and have known one another for more than 17 years.

MacKenzie noted, though, that they did not discuss a position at the Menlo Park, Calif.-based venture capital firm Perkins until after Lane had left Oracle.

Moreover, "we're not going to fund companies that are going to put Oracle out of business," MacKenzie said. "I'd much rather fund companies that are compatible."

Asked what sort of software companies could put Oracle out of business, Lane was more direct.

"Successful ones," he said.

Lane, who is a board member of the New York firm

Insight Capital Partners

, said he believes the venture industry is changing from a focus on capital to a focus on execution.

"I'm the kind of person that knows how to build a company," he said. "Every single thing you can do is bloated with dot-coms right now. A lot of them will fail."

As for the choice of Kleiner Perkins, Lane said, the firm has a top-flight reputation. And, he noted twice in a seven-minute telephone interview, "it's five minutes from the house."

As for Oracle, Lane has filed to sell about $5.8 million of his former employer's stock. This month, Lane has sold 1.01 million shares of Oracle stock worth $82.9 million. He has registered to sell an additional 70,000 shares, which he acquired after exercising options granted in January 1997, according to the

Securities and Exchange Commission

.

Oracle's shares closed down 11/16, or 0.8%, at 82 7/8. They continued to trade at the same price after hours, according to

Instinet

.