The Washington Technology Industry Association‘s Board of Directors has a new chairman: John Suk, a Harvard and University of Chicago graduate with a 20-year career in tech leadership in the Seattle area.
Suk is a vet of several mobile technology companies, including Verizon Wireless, and currently serves as the director for strategic enterprise at Current, General Electric’s lighting division. He has served as the vice-chairman of the WTIA’s board of directors since 2014, and replaces outgoing chairman Bill Richter, who left his position early as he takes on the role of CEO at Qumulo.
“We have one of the strongest technology communities that is so well-balanced between large enterprise, mid-sized enterprise, SMB, and startups/incubators. Our demand for top talent in these industries continues to draw the brightest, most ambitious and socially-conscious people that challenge the limits of what is considered possible. We are also seeing a groundswell of home-grown talent right here in Washington that is being supported by tech-friendly legislators in Olympia,” Suk said in a Q&A on the WTIA’s website.
Suk is the first person of color to serve as chairman in the board’s 30-year history.
“So many of my amazing predecessors (including our outgoing chairman, Bill Richter) who still serve on the WTIA board have provided me with the motivation and mentorship that will help me build on what they have developed over the years,” Suk said of this milestone. “I hope to inspire all people who are interested in technology to strive to achieve their goals in both work and education.”
— It’s not news that Amazon is planning to expand its Prime program to countries overseas, notably China and India. What is news is who will be leading the efforts: according to a report from Recode, that person is Jamil Ghani, a rising star at Target who Amazon poached last week.
As of publishing, Ghani’s LinkedIn profile lists his current position as Senior Vice President of Strategy & Innovation at Target, but he was no longer listed among Target’s leadership on their website. Amazon hasn’t confirmed the hire. The Recode article cites Amazon and Target execs with knowledge of the move.
Ghani has been at Target since 2011, holding a variety of business development and strategy positions. Before joining the company, he served as director of global marketing strategy and planning for the Disney theme parks for four years.
— Zipwhip, a startup that provides text messaging services from desktops and over the web, announced five new senior executive hires today as a result of the $9 million Series B investment it received from Microsoft Ventures, among others, in October.
The new executives include former Expedia exec and now Director of Product Management Fernando Cuadra; Director of Software Development Roman Prigozhin; Director of Marketing Anna Henningsgaard; Controller Rebecca Conner; and Director of Operations Daniel deMarteleire.
— Icertis, a Bellevue, Wash., based startup that offers cloud-based contract management services, announced two leadership changes this week: former Microsoft and Smartsheet exec Peter Boit will serve as Icertis’ executive VP for business development, and Chris Barone, a former DocuSign exec, will serve as the company’s VP of Commercial Sales for North America.
Boit comes to Icertis from his position as executive VP of sales at Smartsheet. Before that, he spent fifteen years in leadership positions at Microsoft and three years at Silicon Valley’s Juniper Networks.
“Icertis immediately stood out for me as a company with the right culture and values and a huge opportunity to be a transformational leader,” Boit said in a press release. “Contract management touches virtually every department within most every enterprise. I see endless opportunities to add to and build on Icertis’ strong strategic partner network to drive even greater value for customers and growth for the company.”
Barone joins Icertis after a three-year stint at electronic signature manager DocuSign.
“DocuSign and Icertis have a long-standing partnership, and through that I’ve had the opportunity to witness the impressive growth and adoption of Icertis’ platform from a front row seat,” Barone said. “The digital transformation taking place within the enterprise is unprecedented, fueled by the need to operate more efficiently while meeting mounting compliance and regulatory concerns. Icertis is in an incredibly exciting position and I look forward to the opportunity to execute on the company’s vision of making ICM the platform of choice for every enterprise.”
— Finance technology company Blucora announced the addition of former Amazon executive Sanjay Baskaran, who will serve as the president of Blucora’s TaxAct division, which provides “affordable digital and downloadable tax software for individuals, business owners and tax professionals,” according to a Blucora release.
Baskaran joins the company from his position as the general manager of North American credit cards at Amazon, before which he held leadership positions at financial firms Visa and HSBC.
“I’m thrilled to be joining TaxAct at such a pivotal time for the company. As the leading provider of affordable digital and downloadable tax software, TaxAct plays an important role in enabling its millions of customers to manage their financial lives,” Baskaran said in the release.
— Discuss.io, a startup providing video conferences for customer research purposes, announced the addition of Ben Macfarlane as VP of engineering. Prior to joining Discuss.io, Macfarlane served as VP of Engineering at Avalara, a Seattle startup offering tech based legal services.
In his new role, Macfarlane will oversee all of Discuss.io’s technology and manage both the company’s core engineering team in its Fremont headquarters and other engineers distributed around the globe.
“I’m excited by the prospect of scaling the platform and the customer experience to complement Discuss.io’s fast pace of growth. It’s great to join a business with a validated product, strong revenue growth, segment leadership and a large untapped market,” Macfarlane told GeekWire in an email.