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Getty Innovation Group
Nate Gandert, left, Jon Miller, center, and Steve Heck of Getty Images. (Via Getty Images)

Getty Images has formed a new Innovation Group focused on meeting evolving customer needs at the visual communications company based in Seattle. Steve Heck, who has served as chief technology officer at Getty, has been appointed leader of the group and named senior vice president, chief innovation officer.

According to a news release, Heck will report to CEO Dawn Airey and will “lead a dedicated team focused on creating and experimenting to continue to advance the company’s existing product portfolio, as well as develop new consumer propositions.”

The group will be tasked with creating products and services that support Getty’s mission to break new ground and bring its images to the widest possible audience. The Innovation Group will be focused primarily on research and development with a simple mission: to imagine and experiment, according to the company.

Getty also announced that Nate Gandert has been promoted to chief technology officer and Jon Miller has been promoted to chief information officer.

“From the launch of our embed initiative, to cutting-edge partnerships with Apple, Facebook, Skype and Oculus among others, Getty Images has long been synonymous with innovation,” said Airey. “The new Innovation Group is an exciting step forward in the consumer future of Getty Images and delivering our world-class content to an even broader global audience. With the inception of the Innovation Group, Getty Images puts an even larger focus on creating the products, services, and technologies that will allow us to break new ground and get ahead of the needs of consumers in this rapidly changing digital world.”

Kevin Urie
Kevin Urie.

Razorfish announced that it has hired Kevin Urie as director of data science growth, a new position at the digital agency.

In his new role, Urie will be responsible for driving growth across Razorfish’s data science practice by bringing products and intellectual property like COSMOS, Razorfish’s machine learning and intelligence platforms, to market.

Urie joins Razorfish most recently from Microsoft, where he led their marketing technology strategy and worked with product teams to develop new marketing offerings powered by AI solutions. A new release cites his 15 years of experience in the marketing industry, where he honed his expertise in utilizing data-driven technology to inform intelligent and fact-based marketing strategies for companies like HTC, Microsoft, Kia and Wells Fargo.

Reporting to Razorfish chief intelligence officer Samih Fadli, Urie will be based out of Razorfish’s Seattle office.

Kevin Vitale
Kevin Vitale.

VRstudios has named Kevin Vitale executive vice president of international operations. Vitale will focus on building the Bellevue, Wash.-based company’s worldwide footprint by establishing international manufacturing and distributor relationships and sales offices.

VR studios is an emerging leader in the global delivery of wireless, full-motion, and multi-user VR experiences for entertainment and commercial enterprise customers. CEO Charles Herrick said that the company is quickly attracting pivotal customers, industry partners, distributors, and content developers.

“Kevin Vitale’s proven success at growing global markets and technology companies is a timely and strong asset that will accelerate our ability to capitalize on the growing interest in our offerings,” Herrick said in a news release. “His operational expertise and global relationships will further enable the delivery of our distinctive VR systems and solutions to the international commercial enterprise space.”

Vitale said that virtual reality is “redefining how we work, live and play” and VRstudios is “setting the bar for what should be expected” from the VR and immersive industries.

“I am honored to join an impressive team and organization that will change the world with its platform technology and products,” Vitale said. “I look forward to sharing the company’s next-generation VR systems and solutions to our international partners and customers.”

Shalendra Chhabra
Shalendra Chhabra., the Seattle startup with a focus on making it easier for companies to get consumer feedback, has recently appointed Shalendra Chhabra as vice president of product.

Chhabra was previously a general manager at where he headed the company’s Text-a-Pro service and integration with Facebook Messenger. Prior to that he was director of marketing at Indix and had managed projects at Swype, Clipboard and Microsoft, where he worked on junk email filters and what would become Xbox Music.

“Shalendra has been a friend and thoughtful advisor for many years,” said founder and CEO Zach Simmons. “His strong product and marketing experiences, relentless drive, positive attitude, and well-nurtured network make him an excellent addition to the Discuss team. We are fortunate to have him onboard and are looking forward to taking to its next stage together.”

“I have seen Zach build from just an idea to a profitable machine in the last four years. His drive to build a real business with relentless focus and humility makes him a great leader and I’m excited to be working with him.”

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