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Brian McAndrews
Brian McAndrews.

The evolving picture of Brian McAndrews’ tech career is taking a new turn as Seattle-based PicMonkey, the photo editing and graphic design platform, announced Wednesday that it has added the ex-Pandora and aQuantive CEO to its board of directors.

PicMonkey has been riding a wave of rapid growth.

The startup landed a $41 million investment from Spectrum Equity a year ago. It also brought in top executive talent in COO Brent Chudoba, from SurveyMonkey, and CTO Frits Habermann, founder of Adobe InDesign.

All of that was attractive to McAndrews.

“To me it really comes down to: Do you believe in the product? Is it a great opportunity? And how do you feel about the people?” McAndrews said. “And I was able to check all three of those boxes really positively here.”

McAndrews, who spent just over 2 1/2 years as CEO of the music streaming service Pandora, called PicMonkey a great product and a growing business.

“Digital photos is huge and a growing opportunity,” McAndrews said. “Three billion photos are uploaded from people’s phones every day and they’re increasingly being shared and used in professional as well as personal settings. It’s still the early days and PicMonkey is making inroads with everyday users but also people in more of a professional setting in companies. Digital content continues to explode and PicMonkey is at the cutting edge of that trend.”

Jonathan Sposato
Jonathan Sposato.

CEO Jonathan Sposato said McAndrews is joining at a critical time in the trajectory of PicMonkey as the company creates what he calls “the future of visual expression for hobbyists and professionals alike.”

“His deep roots with digital media, advertising and technology and his experience operating and scaling impressive subscription and technology businesses will be invaluable in continuing PicMonkey’s leadership in the photo editing and design space,” Sposato said.

McAndrews was the president and CEO of aQuantive from 1999-2007, and stayed for a year after the online advertising company was acquired by Microsoft for $6.3 billion. He has also held executive positions at the Walt Disney Company, ABC and General Mills. And he currently serves as chairman of the board of GrubHub as well as chair of the Technology and Innovation Committee on board of The New York Times.

The Pacific Northwest made sense after leaving Pandora, and McAndrews said he even kept his house in Seattle.

“I always saw my time in the Bay Area as being limited,” McAndrews said. “I was basically going down there for the opportunity but always expected to come back. I love Seattle and think it’s a great, vibrant area economically.”

He’s impressed by the continued growth taking place in the city’s tech sector and sees a big positive in the way the ecosystem kind of feeds on itself.

“Amazon has just exploded and continues to grow significantly,” McAndrews said. “You see more and more companies from the Bay Area putting satellite offices up here, recognizing there’s a tremendous amount of engineering and other tech talent here. And I think as a result, more people who come here for those companies, in many cases, then have the opportunity to launch their own thing.”

McAndrews is keenly aware of the aQuantive DNA that runs through parts of the Seattle scene, as he cites companies such as Rover and Placed — both run by former aQuantive executives.

“There have been a number of people from aQuantive who have either spent time at Microsoft and then went on and started other companies or are sitting on boards of other companies or are running early stage companies,” McAndrews said. “One thing about Seattle I have heard from recruiters, that it’s one of the hardest places to recruit people out of. Once people come into Seattle they don’t want to leave, because they like the lifestyle. That is a real positive in terms of our ability to grow the ecosystem.”

Whether or not he’ll get the bug again to lead another company as CEO or launch a startup of his own, McAndrews said for now he’s interested in being a mentor or advisor and getting involved with boards.

“I want to take the experience that I’ve gotten over the last 30 or so years in my career and really help share that with people,” McAndrews said. “Never say never regarding any future plans, but right now that’s kind of where my focus is.

“I will hint this: You’ll be hearing of some other boards that I’m joining in Seattle as well.”

Editor’s note: PicMonkey CEO Jonathan Sposato is GeekWire’s investor and chairman.

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