Trending: Analysis: Seattle startup ecosystem poised for unprecedented acceleration of company creation
Dwight Gaston. (Crowd Cow Photo)

Crowd Cow, a Seattle-based startup focused on the delivery of sustainable meat products, announced a big new addition this week: retail tech vet Dwight Gaston has joined the company as its new COO.

Gaston previously spent three years as the COO of well-backed cosmetics startup Julep, and had previously spent 15 years leading operations for online jewelry retailer Blue Nile. At Crowd Cow, he will lead operations and oversee the company’s regional and national relationships with ranchers, butchers, and fulfillment centers.

“I’ve had the good fortune to build the operations functions for two fantastic Seattle consumer brands, Blue Nile and Julep. Crowd Cow reminded me of some of the same great things I saw at these two companies: strong consumer traction, a fantastic founding team, and a product with a very definite message. My hope is that by bringing in a skill set to help operationalize current and future activities, we can really build something remarkable,” Gaston told GeekWire in an email.

Crowd Cow’s platform allows customers to effectively crowdsource beef from ranches in the Pacific Northwest. Once enough customers, or “steak holders,” have bought shares of a cow, the cow is “tipped” and the meat shipped off to its holders.

Gaston said he sees great potential for the company to take their model to the national level.

“While we’re a regional company right now, we’re moving full speed ahead to ship nationally and be a truly American brand. I’m excited to help the team set the foundations for not just shipping to consumers across the country but also building great relationships with ranchers who will be critical partners for making this all happen,” he said.

Kevin Vitale. (VRstudios Photo)

— Virtual reality startup VRstudios announced the promotion of Kevin Vitale as the company’s new CEO. Vitale takes over for co-founder Charles Herrick, who has served as CEO since the company was founded. Herrick will continue to be a strategic advisor for the company.

Vitale’s tech career stretches over three decades, and includes multiple stints leading companies working in IT, data, and more. He has served as the company’s president — while being groomed to take over as CEO — for the past year.

“[Kevin] has already had a big impact on the company. His experience building enterprise products and scaling global operations come into play at critical time. Prior to now, we have done all our engineering and almost all of our manufacturing in-house. Kevin is already expanding operations and undertaking important engineering efforts with outside firms to make wireless, full-motion multi-player a reality,” Herrick said in a press release

“It’s an exciting time in the evolution for the VRstudios team and our customers,” Vitale said in the release, “and I’m honored to be involved at such a pivotal time in the development of VR technology and markets.”

Lindsay Cohen. (KOMO Photo)

— After 15 years and three Emmys as a television reporter and anchor, journalist Lindsay Cohen is joining Zillow to head up a new project for the company.

While Zillow hasn’t released details on exactly what Cohen will be doing for the Seattle-based real estate media company, she wrote in a Facebook message that she will be “writing stories for them about cool places on this planet.”

“I am excited about building something new for a company that continues to innovate,” Cohen wrote. “They bent over backward to recruit me and to build a role that will fit my talents. They won me over with their excitement and enthusiasm. It’s infectious. And I am thrilled to be a part of that.”

Cohen previously spent seven years as an award-winning investigative journalist at KOMO news in Seattle, during which she reported on local and state politics. She also did occasional reporting for national outlets like CNN during that time. Her Facebook message said she will likely continue to freelance while at Zillow.

Ken Denman. (LinkedIn Photo)

— Issaquah, Wash.-based wholesale retailer Costco announced the addition of tech veteran Ken Denman to its board of directors.

Denman has a long history of leading and advising tech companies. He was most recently the CEO of “emotion detection and sentiment analysis” company Emotient, which was acquired by Apple last year. He sits on the board of Motorola, among others.

“We are very pleased to welcome Ken as a member of our board. He is widely recognized as a pioneer and leader in technology. He brings substantial experience as a seasoned entrepreneur and chief executive and as a board member of prominent companies,” Costco’s chairman of the board Jeff Brotman said in a press release.

— The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has hired Marquita Davis as deputy director for early childhood learning.

Davis has spent the last four years as executive director of the Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity, the largest community action organization in Alabama. Her move was announced in a post on the JCCEO website.

“We appreciate Dr. Davis and her work with JCCEO,” Gary Richardson, JCCEO’s board chairman, said in the post. “We wish her much success in her new professional endeavor.”

Kim Heuss. (Laurel Group Photo)

—  Faithlife, a Bellingham, Wash.-based startup developing software to serve church communities, has hired Kim Heuss as its VP of marketing.

Heuss joins the company from Catholic Health Initiatives, a national non-profit health system where she served as VP of marketing for almost seven years. Her addition was announced by executive search firm The Laurel Group.

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