A growing number of middle managers are stepping out of their corporate nests to join start-ups, as the new technology boom continues to gather steam.

During the economic turbulence of the last decade, most middle managers were content climbing the corporate ladder. But as more start-ups rake in venture capital and, in some cases, generate enormous wealth for employees when the companies are sold off or go public, some corporate middle managers are changing course. In the last year, executives from American Express Co. and Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal, as well as various Wall Street investment banks and major law firms, have all taken senior-level roles in start-ups.

“From an enterprise and consumer standpoint, [start-ups] have a need for more experienced management, folks that have built more of an operational superstructure from bigger companies,” says Eric Wiesen, a general partner at New York venture firm RRE Ventures.

While there are no official statistics tracking the movement of managers, venture capitalists and recruiters say they have seen a rise in the migration over the last year.

The shift also reflects a profound reappraisal of risk in today’s labor market, where more established industries are being disrupted by technology shifts and upstart companies. Some middle managers now see start-ups as increasingly attractive because they can exert a more direct impact on a company’s operations.

“If I think about where I want to spend my time, this is my opportunity to try something big,” says 30-year-old Emma Nothmann, who this summer left consulting firm Booz & Co., where she was a principal, to become senior director of partnerships and business development of San Mateo, Calif.-basedEdmodo, a social-learning network for teachers, students and parents that was founded in September 2008.

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