Tech Moves

Tech Strikes: Zillow hires Nike exec as first design chief; Allen Institute has new CEO; and extra

Jenny Arden. (Zillow Group Photo)

— Zillow Group named Jenny Arden as the Seattle-based real estate company’s first chief design officer. She was most recently vice president of digital design at Nike.

A Google alum, Arden was previously head of consumer experiences and products at Lyft. She also spent four years at Airbnb, most recently as general manager of its transportation business.

At Zillow Group, Arden will be responsible for customer experiences and integrations across its brands. She will oversee the company’s product design and user experience research.

“We’re excited for her to join as CDO to help build Zillow 2.0 and help people unlock life’s next chapter,” said Jeremy Wacksman, Zillow Group COO.

Last year saw Zillow Group undergo a major pivot, shutting down its iBuying program Zillow Offers. As a result of the change, 2,000 employees were laid off, its stock tumbled and investors filed lawsuits. Its stock is currently trading at $55.40 a share, up from a low of $52.38 in December.

In December, the company reported it had sold or was under contract to sell more than 50% of the homes from its iBuying business. It also announced a $750 million stock repurchase. Zillow Group’s brands include Trulia, StreetEasy and HotPads.

Rui Costa. (Allen Institute Photo)

— Brain circuitry expert Rui Costa took over from founding Allen Institute CEO Allan Jones as CEO and president of the nonprofit research organization. The Seattle-based institute, founded by late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, includes programs studying neuroscience, cell science, bioscience and immunology.

Jones announced a year ago he would be stepping down and join the Allen Institute’s board as president-emeritus.

“As an active researcher and scientist he has already been a trusted advisor for several years, helping accelerate our impact in brain science,” said Jody Allen, Allen Institute Board Chair.

Costa joins the Allen Institute from Columbia University where he was CEO of the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. He is currently a member of the Allen Institute’s Brain Science Scientific Advisory Council.

“I firmly believe in the Institute’s core principles of pursuing big quests using team and open science,” said Costa in a statement. “My goal is to further this style of science into a new era of discovery and impact.”

Maya Tolstoy. (UW Photo)

— Marine geophysicist Maya Tolstoy began her appointment as the Maggie Walker Dean of the College of the Environment at the University of Washington.

Tolstoy comes to Seattle from Columbia University where she was a professor in the department of earth and environmental sciences. Her specialities are seafloor earthquakes and volcanoes.

The namesake deanship was established in December 2020 with a major gift from Seattle philanthropist Maggie Walker and intends to provide additional resources for the department to address climate change and environmental challenges.

Eliana Schwartz. (WattBuy Photo)

— Electricity marketplace WattBuy hired Eliana Schwartz as senior product manager.

Schwartz was most recently a senior product manager at She previously spent five years at Kirkland, Wash.-based education platform Optimal.

— Emily Chavez is joining Seattle HR consultancy Reverb as head of leadership development. She previously spent nine years at Amazon in a variety of executive leadership development roles and also managed programs for MBA and retail leadership development.

[Editor’s Note: GeekWire is a Reverb client.]

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