Tech Moves

Tech Strikes: Leafly declares new board forward of SPAC merger; Amazon vets depart; and extra

Leafly’s board directors, from top left, clockwise: Blaise Judja-Sato, Yoko Miyashita, Michael Blue, Cassandra “Cassi” Chandler, Alan Pickerill and Peter Lee. (Leafly Image)

— Leafly announced its new six-member board of directors whose appointments will be effective after its pending SPAC merger with New York-based Merida Merger Corp is completed. The new board will include:

  • Michael Blue, managing partner of Privateer Holdings, a marijuana investment firm that previously owned Leafly.
  • Vigeo Alliance President and CEO Cassandra Chandler.
  • Blaise Judja-Sato, founder of Seattle-based global health nonprofit VillageReach.
  • Merida Merger Corp. I President and CFO Peter Lee.
  • Yoko Miyashita, Leafly’s CEO since 2020.
  • Former Expedia EVP and CFO Alan Pickerill.

Merida Merger Corp. I shareholders will meet Jan. 14 to agree on the SPAC deal, according to Reuters.

— Tech companies around the country continue to recruit executives from Amazon:

  • Rene Villegas, the former head of marketing for Amazon Subscription Boxes, is now chief marketing officer at Boston-based wireless broadband provider Starry.
  • 12-year Amazon veteran John Curran joined Travis Kalanick’s CloudKitchens as CFO, according to Insider. Curran was most recently VP of finance and chief financial officer for Amazon’s international consumer division.
  • Craig Berman, who spent more than 14 years in global communications at Amazon, is the first SVP of corporate marketing at e-commerce startup Fabric.
  • Accelerator and VC fund Techstars appointed Marie Moussavou as its chief portfolio officer. Based in London, Moussavou held various roles on European operations, vendors and merchandising teams during her 15-year tenure at Amazon.

— Everett, Wash.-based Funko, maker of pop culture products, appointed current board member Charles Denson chairman of the board. The company also announced new CEO Andrew Perlmutter joined the board, replacing Gino Dellomo, a partner at ACON Investments, Funko’s parent company.

Dustin Grosse. (Nintex Photo)

— Nintex Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer Dustin Grosse stepped down from the Bellevue, Wash.-based workflow automation company late last year. A company spokesperson confirmed Grosse’s departure and said the company would not be hiring a CMO in the foreseeable future.

In October, Nintex announced TPG Capital would acquire a majority stake in the company. The deal closed in November and Ben Brewer, who joined Nintex as chief revenue officer in 2020, has been appointed president of the go-to-market organization. In this new role, he will oversee Nintex’s sales, marketing and customer success teams.

— Seattle-based biotech firm Icosavax added John Shiver to its board of directors.

Shiver is currently chief strategy officer at IGM Biosciences’ infectious diseases business. He was previously an executive at pharmaceutical and vaccine companies Merck & Co, Inc. and Sanofi Pasteur.

Leigh Gower. (Dutch Bros Coffee Photo)

— Former Blue Nile executive Leigh Gower joined Grants Pass, Ore.-based Dutch Bros Coffee as the retailer’s first chief technology officer.

At Blue Nile, a Seattle-based online jewelry retailer, Gower was VP of technology. She was previously senior director of technology and product at T-Mobile and a consultant at Slalom Consulting.

Dutch Bros Coffee is a 30-year old drive-thru coffee company with more than 500 locations across 12 states. The company went public in September. Dutch Bros Coffee priced shares at $23 and raised more than $550 million. Shares are now trading at around $46.

The Oregon company also added Symantec and Google vet Stephen Gillett to its board of directors in December. Gillett is currently president of San Francisco-based Verily Life Sciences and serves on the board of Discord.

— Microsoft CVP Harvinder Bhela is joining hybrid cloud service company NetApp as EVP and chief product officer. A 24-year Microsoft veteran, Bhela most recently led the Microsoft 365 security, compliance and management business.

Nathan Peterson (Tagboard Photo).

— Tagboard Founder Josh Decker tapped longtime company executive Nathan Peterson as the Redmond, Wash.-based startup’s new CEO.

Decker, who founded Tagboard in 2011, is now president and chair of the board. Peterson joined Tagboard in 2017 as VP of marketing. He has held a number of roles including chief revenue officer and president.

Tagboard originally launched as a social media aggregator. In recent years the company expanded its products to include a cloud-based production platform and graphics system. Clients include the NFL Network, Telemundo, and Major League Baseball, which signed a four-year deal starting in 2021.

— Oregon Venture Fund Partner Scott Sandler left his full-time role at the Oregon and southwest Washington-focused investment firm. Sandler, the former CEO of Novas Software, joined OVF in 2010 as an investor.

— Real estate property management startup Doorstead hired Philip Lee as CTO. Lee was previously an engineering manager at Facebook in Seattle and also a software development manager at Amazon. He co-founded CounselChat, Healtho, and BuzzLabs. Doorstead raised $12.5 million last year.

Amy Balliett. (Killer Visual Strategies Photo)

— Killer Visual Strategies (formerly Killer Infographics) co-founder Amy Balliett stepped down as CEO of the Seattle agency. She is now senior fellow of visual strategy at consultancy Material, Killer Visual Strategies’ parent company.

Balliett co-founded Killer Visual Strategies in 2010 and bootstrapped the company until it was acquired by Kelton Global, a Material company, in 2019.

— Vancouver-based clinical stage biotech company Zymeworks announced Kenneth Galbraith will succeed co-founder Ali Tehrani as chair and CEO on or before Feb. 1. Zymeworks executive Neil Klompas has also been promoted to CFO/COO.

Galbraith previously served on the board of Zymeworks from 2009 to 2016. He was most recently an executive-in-residence at Syncona Limited and has served as CEO of bioscience companies Liminal Biosciences and Fairhaven Pharmaceuticals.

Founded in 2003, the publicly traded Zymeworks has a satellite office in Seattle. Its leading drug candidates target oncology treatments.

— New Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell appointed former Washington State Rep. Gael Tarleton and former television executive Matt Chan to his administration.

Tarleton will serve as interim director of the Office of Intergovernmental Relations. She was previously a senior defense intelligence analyst for the Pentagon, and ran for secretary of state in Washington last year. 

Chan will be a special advisor for public engagement. He will advise the mayor on the “City’s strategic use of digital technology to enhance public engagement, strengthen transparency, and address the digital divide,” according to a press release.

Ali Adab. (SoleSavy Photo)

— Vancouver, B.C.-based online sneaker community SoleSavy hired Ali Adab as its chief content officer. Adab spent almost a decade as VP of content and partnerships at digital entertainment company BroadbandTV.

Founded in 2018, SoleSavy has raised more than $14 million to expand its sneaker-centric platform. It currently hosts several chat communities and has plans to create a peer-to-peer marketplace, editorial content, NFTs, as well as expansion beyond North America.

— Seattle and Herndon, Va.-based satellite venture BlackSky hired Aly Bonilla as VP of investor relations. He most recently led investor relations for industrial IoT company ORBCOMM.

— Fred Hutch promoted Hilary Hehman to VP of business development. She joined the cancer research center in 2016 as director of strategic partnerships and alliances.

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