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Steve Elfman. (Syntonic Photo)

Syntonic, a Seattle-based mobile services startup, announced a new chairman of the board Thursday: former AT&T and Sprint executive Steve Elfman.

Elfman has a storied career in the mobile world, including three years as the CIO of AT&T and six years as the president of network operations and wholesale at Sprint. He is now the founder and executive managing partner at business consulting firm TAP Growth Group.

Syntonic also announced the addition of Nigel Hennessy to the board. Hennessy is a Sydney-based startup advisor and managing partner at business consultant Hearnshaw and Partners, which specializes in tech commercialization on an international scale.

Syntonic was founded in 2013 by RealNetworks vets Rahul Agarwal and Gary Greenbaum in an effort to provide connectivity to mobile devices without restrictive —  and expensive —  data contracts. It has since expanded to operate a variety of alternative mobile access models.

Nigel Hennessy. (Photo via LinkedIn)

“From a business philosophy and industry expertise perspective, both Steve and Nigel will provide invaluable guidance as Syntonic enters the next stage of corporate growth,” Greenbaum, who is Syntonic’s CEO, said in a press release. “With Steve’s strong sense of strategic leadership and Nigel’s broad business and technical expertise, the two bring very different yet crucial energies and viewpoints to strengthen an already world-class board.”

“Syntonic is uniquely poised to address many gaps in the wireless industry, including global issues in access to content,” Elfman said in the release. “I look forward to working alongside Gary, Nigel, and the rest of the board to guide Syntonic’s next phase of growth and build the company’s long-term strategy.”

Yan Leshinsky. (Yandex Photo)

— Yan Leshinsky — a longtime Seattle engineer who led technical efforts at Amazon Web Services, Salesforce and Microsoft — is leaving the states to head up a new cloud computing service from Russian technology giant Yandex.

A Yandex spokesperson said Leshinsky has relocated from Seattle to Moscow, where the new Yandex.Cloud division will be headquartered.

Leshinsky joins the company after spending a year as a technical SVP and distinguished engineer at Salesforce. He previously spent three years as an engineering director for AWS, working on the company’s Amazon Aurora database, and served in engineering and managing roles at Microsoft for 12 years.

At Yandex.Cloud, Leshinsky will oversee the development of the first cloud service local to Russia and Western Europe, with a focus on serving balooning technology markets in Russia that currently have few cloud computing options.

“There are a number of things that attracted me to Yandex and this role. Yandex has access to an amazing pool of math and engineering talent in Russia, which feeds the high amount of intellectual capital at the company,” Leshinksy said in a press release. “Yandex also has an organizational and technological framework centered on the customer. That combination of developer talent and customer focus sets Yandex apart and creates a great atmosphere to build out the Yandex.Cloud initiative.”

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