Tech Moves

Tech Strikes: Seattle AI specialists be a part of nationwide job pressure; Boundless co-founder departs; and extra

Daniela Braga (left) and Oren Etzioni. (DefinedCrowd and AI2 Photos)

— DefinedCrowd founder and CEO Daniela Braga and Allen Institute for AI CEO Oren Etzioni are part of the newly formed National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource Task Force. The task force, created by The National Science Foundation and the Biden administration, includes ten other technical experts from academic institutions, government agencies and technology companies across the U.S.

The task force will be responsible for developing a roadmap for AI researchers and students, making recommendations for the National AI Research Resource, and providing two reports to Congress by 2022.

— Boundless co-founder and CTO Serdar Sutay has left the Seattle immigration startup. His last day was Friday.

“He left for personal reasons and will be spending the summer with his family in Turkey and helping with the startup scene in Ankara,” said Boundless CEO Xiao Wang.

Serdar Sutay. (Boundless Photo)

Sutay immigrated from Turkey and previously led engineering teams at Microsoft and Chef. He co-founded Boundless with Wang and Doug Rand in 2017 after spinning out from Seattle-based Pioneer Square Labs. Rand previously served as president and is now an advisor.

The company also announced the addition of Heba Williams as its new vice president of people. Boundless now has more than 150 employees across offices in Seattle, Las Vegas, Manila, and Cebu City, Philippines.

Earlier this year, Boundless raised $25 million and consolidated its customer service team following its first acquisition.

Clara Siegel. (Dance Church Photo)

— Seattle-based Dance Church announced former Facebook Product Manager Clara Siegel as CEO and a partnership with Pioneer Square Labs for the launch of its Dance On Demand offering.

Siegel previously was previously a senior product manager at Tableau and Amazon. At Facebook, she managed products on the Messenger and Gaming teams.

“PSL has helped us set up the infrastructure of the company down to its core in a way that is true to the mission, vision and values, and Clara brings product and execution expertise to carry us forward in a supported way as we scale,” said Kate Wallich, Dance Church founder and chief creative officer.

Founded in 2010, Dance Church is a non-religious, high-energy dance workout set to pop music that attracted thousands to its livestreams during the pandemic. In partnership with another local brand, Nordstrom, Dance Church returned to its live format with a national tour. The tour will make a stop at The Seattle Center on July 10.

From left: Robert Kaskel and Peggy Smyth. (Remitly Photos)

— Seattle digital remittance startup Remitly hired Robert Kaskel as EVP of people and appointed National Grid CFO Peggy Smyth to its board of directors.

Kaskel was most recently the HR director for Amazon’s finance and global business services. He previously had HR roles at Microsoft and Mattel.

Smyth has been a global financial executive at 3M, United Technologies and Con Edison. She also currently serves on the board of Etsy.

Remitly filed its initial IPO paperwork last week as it prepares to go public at a reported $5 billion valuation.

Harshit Shah. (Spring Health Photo)

— Microsoft veteran and former Amazon Web Services (AWS) leader Harshit Shah joined New York-based Spring Health as chief technology officer. Shah was most recently head of engineering at AWS.

Employers subscribe to Spring Health’s mental health benefits platform as an addition or replacement to traditional employee assistance programs (EAP). Its data and machine learning technology helps assess employee needs and creates a personalized care program for employees.

“The social, political and health factors in the last year have affected every single individual in one way or another,” said Shah. “I’ve seen a clear need for better mental healthcare in the world.”

Bruce Leban. (Athena Slater Photography.)

— Former Smartsheet Distinguished Engineer Bruce Leban has joined San Francisco HR management startup Rippling as chief architect. He will be based in Seattle.

Prior to joining Smartsheet, Leban was founder and CTO of healthcare startup CadenceMD. He previously held engineering roles at Bocada, Google and Microsoft.

— Portland, Ore.-based SheerID announced John Ewert as its new chief financial officer. Ewert was most recently chief financial and operating officer at Nvoicepay and previously in the same role at AWS Elemental.

Formerly known as Elemental Technologies, AWS Elemental is a video processing company that was acquired by Amazon in 2015 during Ewert’s tenure. He also was vice president of finance at Palo Alto Networks during the company’s path to an IPO.

SheerID’s platform allows companies to verify customers’ communities for special deals. The company’s identify verification tool is used for military, student, teacher, medical and employer-specific discounts.

— Social media management platform Hootsuite named Manish Kamra senior vice president of software development. Kamra was most recently vice president of software development and head of CENX product development at Ericsson and previously led engineering teams at Wind River and BlackBerry.

— Microsoft Chief Digital Officer Jacky Wright joined the board of global consultancy Russell Reynolds Associates. She also currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Harvey Mudd College and the MxD Manufacturing Council.

Uzo Akotaobi. (Glowforge Photo)

— Seattle 3D laser printing startup Glowforge announced Uzo Akotaobi as its new vice president of people, inclusion and diversity. Akotaobi was most recently vice president of human resources, talent acquisition, inclusion and diversity at real estate investment trust Prologis. He previously held HR roles at Comcast and Zulily.

— JLL, a global commercial real estate company, announced Andrea Lerum as senior vice president of retail for the Seattle market. A former sales and leasing broker at West Coast Commercial Realty, Lerum will work exclusively with an undisclosed client described as a “Seattle-based Fortune 500 tech company.”

— Vancouver, B.C. startup Dooly added four new executives to its leadership team:

  • Former Trello Produce Manager Nikita Miller as vice president of product.
  • Michelle Pietsch, a former sales executive at Drift and Datadog, as vice president of revenue.
  • Former Intiveo Director of People and Culture Candace Bajgoric as head of people and culture.
  • Gigi Wong, who spent five years at Vancouver, B.C. startup Unbounce, as director of finance.

Dooly is developing an artificial intelligence plugin to automate manual data entry tasks for sales team, especially those using Salesforce. The company closed an $80 million Series B funding round led by Spark Capital last month. Spark Capital’s Will Reed also joined the Dooly board.

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