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Kurt DelBene (Photo via Seattle U.)
Kurt DelBene (Photo via Seattle U.)

Former Microsoft executive Kurt DelBene spent the past several months helping to fix President Obama’s Web site, a hot-button issue which drew fire from both sides of the political spectrum.

So, what’s the next big challenge for DelBene?


The former president of Microsoft’s Office Division is joining the venture capital ranks, taking on the role of venture partner at Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group.

Time will tell which is a tougher assignment, fixing a broken government Web site or assisting startups on their quest for market domination. (Both sound tough to us).

Nonetheless, DelBene — who started talking to Madrona before getting tapped for the government role — said he’s excited for the new challenge.

“It’s a great group of people and I was intrigued then by the growth of startups in our area and the diversity of the projects they were taking on,” DelBene said of Madrona. “I’m really looking forward to diving into work with these young companies on planning, and product and strategy. “

DelBene should have plenty of skills to bring to the table, given his more than two decades at Microsoft. During that run, he looked at plenty of investments for the software giant.

“Coming from Office, my background is on both the consumer and enterprise side. In particular, since I led the Office 365 effort and the cloud is such a key investment space in Seattle, the enterprise cloud is one area of interest,” DelBene tells GeekWire. “I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if a number of things on the consumer side drew my attention as well.” He also plans to work with some of Madrona’s existing portfolio companies, which include startups such as Qumulo, 2nd Watch, Seeq and Smartsheet.

DelBene is married to Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, a former high-tech executive who previously served as CEO of Nimble Technology, a company that was bankrolled by Madrona in the early 2000s.

Steve Scott
Steve Scott

—Seattle supercomputer maker Cray Inc. has named Steve Scott has senior vice president and chief technology officer. Scott is rejoining Cray from Google, where he served as a principal engineer in the Google Platforms Group. He started at Cray in 1992, rising the ranks to take the CTO role and helping to build the Cray X1 and Cascade supercomputers

“For our company and throughout our industry, Steve coming back to Cray is very significant and, in a sense, it’s similar to LeBron James returning home to Cleveland,” said Peter Ungaro, president and CEO of Cray. “I am very excited that Steve has rejoined our all-star technical team at Cray as we work to build differentiated, high-value solutions for our customers at the convergence of supercomputing and big data.”

He received his Ph.D. in computer architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Saira Nayak

—Seattle mobile analytics startup Tune, formerly HasOffers, has named Saira Nayak as chief privacy officer. Nayak was most recently Director of Policy at TRUSTe, and before that worked as a lawyer at Microsoft.

“Tune has a unique business model that sets us apart. Our insights into the marketing ecosystem — and the fact that we don’t try to own or monetize end user data — positions us well to be a thought leader in this space,” said Nayak. “I’m excited to work with smart people and great products, as well as the opportunity to define and promote Tune’s privacy and security message to our stakeholders in government and industry.”

Facebook earlier this year cracked down on Tune, booting the company from the Facebook mobile measurement program after it ran afoul of some of the social networking giant’s policies as part of contractual issue. The issue centered around the deletion of advertiser data. CEO Peter Hamilton said that Nayak will help “define and share our privacy and data security practices.”

Dante Lauretta
Dante Lauretta

—Planetary Resources, the heavily-funded Seattle area startup that is looking to mine asteroids, said that Dante Lauretta has joined as a science advisor. Lauretta is a professor of Planetary Science at the University of Arizona and principal investigator of OSIRIS-REx – NASA’s first asteroid sample return mission which is set to launch in 2016 and rendezvous with asteroid Bennu.

“As the lead for the OSIRIS-REx mission and a distinguished scientist, Dr. Lauretta is one of today’s leading experts in the field of planetary science,” said Chris Lewicki, president of Planetary Resources. “His insight from studying the carbonaceous asteroid Bennu will be extremely useful as we develop technologies on collecting data for our own asteroid rendezvous missions.”

Planetary Resources has received investment from tech luminaries including Richard Branson and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Dan Hamman and Vik Duggal

—Social media analytics startup Simply Measured continues to bolster its exec team, despite cutbacks in staff last week. The Seattle startup has named Vik Duggal as senior vice president of strategy operations and Dan Hamann as vice president of worldwide sales. Duggal, who holds an engineering degree from the University of Washington, previously worked at ReTageter and Likeable Labs. Hamman joins from F5 Networks. The company raised $20 million in venture funding in March.

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