Quincy Smith, the one-time investment banker turned digital guru, is leaving his job as CEO of CBS (CBS) Interactive, BusinessWeek has been told. Since joining CBS in early 2006, Smith has been CBS CEO Leslie Moonves’ top new media advisor and was a key architect of the media giant’s $1.8 billion acquisition last year of online company CNET. That acquisition jump started Moonves’ efforts to add online distribution to the company’s broadcast networks, pay TV, and publishing units.

Smith will continue to provide consulting services to CBS on its various interactive ventures, but is leaving in January to start his own consulting firm. A one-time venture capitalist and investment banker with media firm Allen and Company, Smith had advised Comcast (CMCSA), Google (GOOG) and CBS in his prior life. At CBS, he is CEO of the unit that included CNET sites like CNET.com, Chow.com, and BNET.com as well as the cbs.com and cbsports.com that distribute shows from CBS’s existing businesses.

Smith was also a key driver behind CBS’s efforts to stream high-end sporting events, including the annual March Madness college basketball tournament games, which had grown greatly in popularity. Under Smith, CBS had kept its distance from Hulu.com, the online site that currently streams shows from NBC, Fox, and ABC. The company was instead building its own TV distribution arm through its TV.com site.

Current interactive president Neil Ash will continue as president of the interactive unit.

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