Tech Moves

Tech Strikes: The Riveter’s Amy Nelson to steer new SaksWorks enterprise; Funko’s management transition

Amy Nelson, founder of The Riveter, accepts the ‘Startup of the Year’ award at the 2019 GeekWire Awards. (GeekWire Photo)

— Amy Nelson is getting back into co-working. The founder and former CEO of The Riveter announced Tuesday that she is the president of SaksWorks, a new partnership between Saks Fifth Avenue-owner Hudson’s Bay Co. (HBC) and WeWork.

SaksWorks will be a new chain of shared workspaces utilizing HBC’s retail footprint. According to The Wall Street Journal, locations will be in existing Saks Fifth Avenue locations as well as buildings previously occupied by Saks Fifth Avenue brands and department store Lord & Taylor, which is now exclusively an e-commerce retailer. WeWork will manage and staff the co-working spaces as part of a revenue-sharing arrangement.

In an email to GeekWire, Nelson said she will remain on the board of The Riveter, which originally launched in Seattle four years ago and grew to nine locations with more than 100 employees, separating itself from a sea of co-working spaces by focusing on women. But it closed its physical locations in May 2020 due to the pandemic, and is now an all-digital community and media brand.

Liat Ashkenazi Myers, based in New York, has been appointed president of The Riveter and will lead the 10-person team going forward. A former loyalty marketing director for Starwood Resorts, Myers was most recently a marketing and social media strategy consultant.

The SaksWorks website.

The first SaksWorks locations will open this fall in the New York City area. Services and features will include haircuts and blowouts, dry cleaning, meeting rooms, bike storage, yoga meditation, “Zoom rooms,” volunteer opportunities, fitness studios, cafes, portable power, as well as a speaking series and networking events.

In an Instagram post, Nelson described SaksWorks as “a revival of the American rec center with belonging and work and wellness and good food and things for families and more.”

“I know [SaksWorks] will be the kind of place we have all longed for in these terrible months of isolation,” Nelson wrote.

Nelson relocated to Columbus, Ohio earlier this year. Nelson and her husband have been disputing the FBI’s seizure of their bank accounts in an ongoing Amazon Web Services lawsuit.

Brian Mariotti. (Funko Photo)

— Everett, Wash.-based Funko, maker of Pop! figurines, announced CEO Brian Mariotti will transition to the newly created role of chief creative officer next year. He has been CEO of the company since 2005.

Funko President Andrew Perlmutter will take over as CEO effective Jan. 3. Perlmutter joined Funko in 2013 as SVP of sales.

“This transition will allow me to remain closely involved with the business while focusing more exclusively on the creative and fan-centric areas I am passionate about,” said Mariotti in a statement.

— Amazon senior cloud executive Charlie Bell is leaving the company after more than 23 years. It’s the latest leadership change at Amazon Web Services. Read the story.

Shari Slate. (Textio Photo)

— Cisco Chief Inclusion and Collaboration Officer Shari Slate joined augmented writing startup Textio’s board of advisors. She is also the vice president of inclusive future and strategy at Cisco.

Slate will advise the company on its approach to inclusion both within the organization and its technology. Last year, Textio debuted a tool to facilitate more diverse and inclusive language across a range of corporate messages.

— Following the passing of drug development pioneer Tadataka Yamada, Seattle-based biotech firm Icosavax appointed Mark McDade to succeed Yamada as chair of its board. Icosavax spun out of the University of Washington and went public last month.

McDade is the former EVP and COO of UCB Biopharma. He currently is a managing partner at Qiming Venture Partners, a venture capital firm founded in China with a U.S.-based fund focused on healthcare and life sciences.

At the time of his death, Yamada was also chair of the board for Athira Pharma. Kelly Romano has been selected to succeed him; she has served on the Athira board since December of last year and is currently the CEO of consultancy firm BlueRipple Capital.

Jennifer Pawlosky. (Stowers Institute Photo)

— Jennifer Pawlosky is now vice president of communications at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. She was most recently executive director of communications for the Allen Institute and previously worked at Fred Hutch.

Based in Kansas City, Mo., the Stowers Institute conducts research on genes and proteins to improve the prevention and treatment of diseases.

— Microsoft Corporate Vice President Liz Hamren joined the board of LegalZoom, a Glendale, Calif.-based legal technology company that went public in June. Formerly head of marketing for Facebook’s Oculus VR, Hamren currently oversees Microsoft’s consumer Xbox gaming business.

Devesh Mishra. (Deliveroo Photo)

— U.K. food delivery service Deliveroo appointed Amazon Vice President Devesh Mishra as its new chief product and technology officer. A longtime veteran of Amazon, Mishra most recently oversaw its global supply chain strategy and technology. He will relocate to the U.K.

Headquartered in London, Deliveroo currently operates in 12 markets internationally. Mishra will start his new role in September and report to Deliveroo founder and CEO Will Shu. Amazon owns more than 10% of Deliveroo, which went public in March.

— Nautilus Biotechnology hired Karl Voss as vice president of life sciences research and development. He will be based in the company’s San Carlos, Calif. research center.

Voss spent the past 12 years at Pacific Biosciences, most recently as VP of consumables research and development. He has his Ph.D. in chemistry and has focused his research in single-molecule biochemistry.

Based in Seattle, Nautilus Biotechnology is led by Isilon Systems co-founder Sujal Patel and went public via a SPAC merger in June.

Ashley Levesque. (Banzai Photo)

— Event marketing startup Banzai appointed Ashley Levesque as vice president of marketing. She was most recently director of marketing at webinar platform Demio, which was acquired by Banzai in February.

Based in Seattle, Banzai was founded by former Avalara employees and recently raised $15 million in venture debt funding. During the pandemic, the startup focused on its virtual events marketing solution.

— Bothell, Wash.-based BioLife Solutions, a publicly traded biotech company, announced that chairman of the board Raymond Cohen is retiring and will be succeeded by current CEO Mike Rice.

Nathaniel Crook. (Instabase Photo)

— Former Microsoft Global VP of Sales and Strategic Accounts Nathaniel Crook joined San Francisco startup Instabase as chief revenue officer. 

Crook is based in Portland, Ore. Prior to Microsoft, where he spent more than eight years, he was a systems engineer at Cisco.

The announcement comes a few weeks after Instabase joined the Microsoft for Startups program. Instabase provides an app store for business and enterprise applications. The company is working with Microsoft to use its Azure Cognitive Services on the Instabase platform.

Kal Sahota. (HeroX Photo)

— Kal Sahota has been named the new CEO of Vancouver, B.C.-based HeroX, a platform for crowdsourcing solutions to challenges. One such challenge is the GoFly Prize program, sponsored by Boeing.

Sahota has been at HeroX since 2015, when she joined as a client relationship manager. Prior to that she worked in financial planning and investment.

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