Tech Moves: Convoy names general counsel; startup founders land new gigs after shutdowns
— Freight marketplace Convoy announced John Morrow as its new general counsel, effective Nov. 1.
A Seattle tech vet, Morrow was an executive at Apptio for five years including through the software company’s IPO and later $1.9 billion private equity deal. He was most recently general counsel and secretary at Paymentus, a Redmond, Wash.-based electronic billing platform that went public this year.
Morrow’s appointment comes after turnover in the top legal role at Convoy throughout 2021, as reported by Bloomberg Law.
Former Convoy General Counsel Diankha Linear departed in May and is now COO at text messaging platform Community.com. Acting head of legal Megan Lutes departed in July to join 3D printing startup Glowforge as its general counsel. Convoy’s Director of Legal Peter Hisken served as the interim head.
Founded in 2015, Convoy’s last valuation was $2.7 billion in November 2019. The company recently subleased 123,000 square feet of office space in downtown Seattle. Other recent leadership appointments include Amazon vet Dorothy Li as CTO and Sunita Solao as VP of people.
— Former Amazon Web Services VP Steven Shure relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area from Seattle to join alternative search engine Neeva as chief business officer.
Shure joined Amazon in 2006 as vice president of Amazon Prime and later led the worldwide consumer marketing organization. Prior to Amazon, he was a marketing executive at Time Inc.
“I’ve always had a deep belief in the power of customer-supported, subscription-based products, and have seen firsthand how those products (and customers) are inevitably compromised when they become dependent on advertising revenue,” said Shure.
Founded in 2019 by former Google SVP of Ads Sridhar Ramaswamy and former VP of YouTube monetization Vivek Raghunathan, Neeva is an ad-free, private search engine. The company raised $40 million earlier this year and counts many ex-Googlers among its staff. Neeva became publicly available in July and users will eventually pay between $5-to-10 a month for the service.
“I remember people asking me years ago why I thought anyone would ever want to subscribe to a shipping service,” said Shure. “I hope and expect that in the not too distant future, the question ‘why would anyone want to pay for a search engine?’ will, in hindsight, sound just as ridiculous.”
A former New Relic executive, Wassenaar has been CEO of Portland, Ore.-based Puppet since January 2019. She also currently serves on the boards of forecasting platform Anaplan, research firm Forrester and Harvey Mudd College.
— Former Amazon Air VP Gur Kimchi was appointed to the board of Pittsburgh-based Near Earth Autonomy, a developer of autonomous flight systems.
Kimchi left Amazon in September 2020 after eight years. He previously served as a member of the FAA’s Drone Advisory Committee.
Satya was most recently vice president of engineering for unstructured storage at Dell EMC. He previously held engineering leadership roles at Microsoft and Amazon Web Services.
Headquartered in New York, Wheels Up offers memberships and a marketplace of private planes.
— Freightweb co-founder Farah Ali returned to EA as vice president of technology growth and strategy, following the shutdown of the Seattle startup.
Ali previously served as EA’s vice president of engineering for player and developer experiences, departing the gaming company in 2019 to focus on Freightweb full-time.
Ali was previously CTO at Freightweb, a transportation logistics startup that raised $3 million last year. She was previously an engineering leader at Microsoft and eBay. Ali is currently a technical advisor to Madrona Venture Group.
Freightweb’s other co-founders Marty Sinicrope and Will Payson have also moved on to new ventures, according to their LinkedIn bios. Payson told GeekWire that the pandemic’s impacts on shipping and trucking created “an insurmountable challenge for a new startup.”
— Former Inrix and ReachNow executive Steve Banfield joined Silicon Valley startup Placer.ai as VP of business development for its marketplace. Placer.ai provides retailers with location analytics, similar to Seattle startup Placed, which was acquired by Snap for more than $200 million in 2017.
Banfield was most recently CEO of Simplata Technologies, a Madrona Venture Labs (MVL) spinout he co-founded with CTO Bruce Roberts. Both tech vets were entrepreneurs-in-residence at MVL before leading the data protection startup.
Banfield and Madrona Venture Labs declined to comment on the status of Simplata. According to a Washington Office of the Secretary of State filing, the corporation has been terminated.
Roberts is now a platform architect at Seattle startup Zeitworks, another Madrona Venture Labs spinout.
— SilverLake co-CEO Greg Mondre resigned from the Expedia Group board. Mondre joined the travel giant’s board in 2020 after Silver Lake and Apollo Global Management made a combined $1.2 billion equity investment, one of a series of moves made by Expedia to navigate the business effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
— Amazon Studios’ announced COO and co-Head of Television Albert Cheng will focus solely on his COO role, according to a report by Deadline. The tech giant’s entertainment arm plans to expand internationally and double original local programs. Vernon Sanders, also previously co-head of Television, is now head of U.S. and global television at Amazon Studios.
— Former Amazon SVP Diego Piacentini joined the advisory board of CLIPr, a Seattle-based video management platform. Piacentini is the founder of VC firm View Different and also an advisor to Seattle trucking startup Convoy.
— Portland, Ore.-based Bumped hired Babak Farrokh-Siar as chief revenue officer. He is based in Los Angeles.
Farrokh-Siar was most recently VP of business development and partnerships at fintech company Acorns. He previously managed advertising partnerships at Apple.
Through Bumped’s app, users receive fractional shares of stock from the brands they shop. The app launched last November after a year of beta testing.
— Theresa Bak-Thomsen is now director of discovery biologics at Novo Nordisk’s Seattle research center. She recently relocated from Copenhagen to Seattle. She was previously director of antibody technology and has worked at the Danish pharmaceutical company for more than a decade.