Tech Moves

Tech Strikes: Azure GM joins Madrona; Microsoft promotes chief scientist; Esper provides exec; extra

From left: Aseem Datar, Chris Picardo and Birkan Uzun. (Madrona Photos)

— Microsoft Azure General Manager and COO Aseem Datar is joining Madrona Venture Group as a partner. The Seattle investment firm also announced that Chris Picardo has been promoted to partner and Birkan Uzun has joined as an investor. 

Datar started at Microsoft as an engineering manager and has spent more than 17 years at the company. He will be departing Microsoft and starting at Madrona full-time later this month.

He has worked on the Windows and Office teams and in 2014 became general manager for the Microsoft Azure and data platform. He is an angel investor and advisor to startups.

“I’ve known and worked with Aseem closely over many years – during my time at Microsoft and in the recent past as well. Aseem scales businesses,” said S. “Soma” Somasegar, Madrona Venture Group managing director, in a post on LinkedIn.

Picardo joined Madrona in 2017 as a senior associate and is currently a board observer of Unearth Technologies, Knock, Shyft and He left the firm briefly in 2019 to lead WONE, a Los Angeles activewear company.

Before working at Madrona, Picardo was director of finance and business intelligence at New York startup Rockets of Awesome and a private equity associate at the Invus Group.

A former Amazon software engineer, Uzun was most recently working on Amazon’s COVID-19 response and was a fellow at Castor Ventures, an MIT alumni venture fund.

Jaime Teevan (GeekWire File Photo/Dan DeLong)

— Microsoft Chief Scientist Jaime Teevan has been promoted to corporate vice president (CVP).

In a post on LinkedIn, Teevan described initially feeling “strangely, ridiculously uncomfortable” about the announcement but ultimately chose to embrace it.

“Being a CVP at Microsoft is a big deal. I’m an officer of the company now,” she said. “It feels pretty cool to be responsible for helping to shape such an impactful company during such a pivotal time.”

Teevan joined Microsoft in 2006 as a principal researcher. She previously was a technical advisor to CEO Satya Nadella, and has been featured as a GeekWire Geek of the Week.

In her role as chief scientist, Teevan is part of Microsoft’s Experiences and Devices division working on projects ranging from AI standards to the tech giant’s evolving work policies following the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ganesh Ramamoorthy. (Esper Photo)

— Microsoft alum Ganesh Ramamoorthy joined Seattle DevOps platform Esper as vice president of business development. He was most recently in a similar role at IoTium, a software startup that was acquired by View, Inc. in July.

During his 15-year stint at Microsoft, Ramamoorthy led Windows & Devices business development, the Windows Phone business, and a strategic partnership with Intel.

Esper raised $30 million earlier this year to grow its DevOps platform for IoT device fleets.

— Sarah Bird, the longtime CEO of Moz, is now EVP and chief revenue officer for Moz Group following the Seattle company’s acquisition by J2 Global subsidiary iContact.

Marcela Martin. (Squarespace Photo)

— Avalara added Squarespace CFO Marcela Martin to its board. Martin previously was CFO at

“Her expertise in streamlining operations and M&A integration combined with her experience guiding strategic operations during periods of growth will add tremendous value to Avalara’s board of directors,” Avalara CEO Scott McFarlane said in a statement.

Avalara also said Chelsea Stoner, a partner at Battery Ventures, resigned from the board effective Aug. 27.

The Seattle-based tax software business appointed Bruce Crawford and Srinivas Tallapragada to its board in June.

— Peter Denton, marketing lead at Seattle-based Pioneer Square Labs, is taking a new gig at XMTP where he’ll focus on building growth for the crypto startup that just raised $20 million in a round led by a16z. “I couldn’t be more excited to make the leap head first into Web3,” Denton tweeted. XMTP aims to enable communication between crypto wallets. Denton previously worked at Seattle startups including Cheezburger and Steller.

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