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Doug Raymond. (Photo courtesy of AI2)

The Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) has attracted another top player in the AI world. Doug Raymond, a longtime AI leader and entrepreneur who most recently led new initiatives for Amazon’s Alexa platform, has joined AI2, GeekWire has learned.

In his new role, Raymond will lead the institute’s Semantic Scholar project, an intelligent search engine that helps academics sort through mountains of information in published papers.

In a statement to GeekWire, Raymond said his time serving as a captain in the Army was a direct influence on his decision to take up the new role.

“As an Army veteran, I was attracted to AI2 because of its sense of purpose,” Raymond said. “Semantic Scholar is already enabling researchers and doctors to find the right information faster, but there’s much more to do to. The original promise of the World Wide Web was the free sharing of academic information. Semantic Scholar wants to meet and exceed that promise by not just offering information and search results, but understanding the text of papers and the intent of searches.”

In addition to his time in the Army, Raymond spent five years at Google, serving as the head of search monetization for the company’s Asia-Pacific region. He has also founded two companies.

In the past five years, Raymond has filled several different roles in Amazon’s AI product efforts, including leading new initiatives in Alexa.

“We’re very lucky to have Doug at AI2,” AI2 CEO Oren Etzioni told GeekWire in an email. “He has a track record of success at Google, Amazon, and in startups but most important—he has the mindset that we look for – mission driven, results oriented. Semantic Scholar utilizes AI to revolutionize science, which requires a visionary leader, with exceptional execution skills, and we’ve found that in Doug.”

Artificial intelligence expertise is increasingly coveted in the tech industry, with Facebook in March hiring away one of AI2’s top researchers, Luke Zettlemoyer.

Microsoft Chairman John Thompson. (GeekWire File Photo)

— John Thompson, a longtime tech executive and current chairman of Microsoft, has joined Silicon Valley investment firm Lightspeed Venture Partners as an investor.

Thompson’s relationship with Lightspeed reaches back to his days as CEO of infrastructure performance management company Virtual Instruments, which the firm invested in. Before that role, Thompson was the CEO and chairman of cyber security giant Symantec and spent decades as a senior executive at IBM.

He has served as Microsoft’s chairman since 2014 and has helped guide the company through its shift to focus on the cloud as well as Satya Nadella’s transition into the CEO role.

“What’s clear from the time I’ve been in this industry is that innovation never stops. So, if you’re going to be helpful to companies large and small, you must have your finger on the pulse,” Thompson said in a press release. “Few firms have the reach and powerful footprint that Lightspeed does—they’ve been partners with me as investors in my own company in the past, and I’m thrilled to move forward with them to invest in the next wave of innovative companies as a Venture Partner.”

Peter Zaballos. (Qumulo Photo)

Qumulo, the Seattle-based data storage and analytics company, tapped longtime marketing executive Peter Zaballos as the company’s first CMO. The company’s VP of marketing, Jay Wampold, is also leaving the company to pursue another opportunity, a spokesperson said.

Zaballos joins the company from retail analytics and cloud supply chain services company SPS Commerce, where he spent six years on the company’s leadership team. He was most recently a senior vice president and chief marketing officer.

Zaballos has formerly held executive positions at companies including media infrastructure company RealNetworks, investment firm Frazier Technology Ventures and e-learning company Study Blue.

“Qumulo is the perfect combination of groundbreaking technology, a CEO, co-founders, and leadership team who share a vision for what’s possible, and the opportunity to create a new market category,” Zaballos said in a press release. “The company is nothing but bold and ambitious, seeking to change the very nature of enterprise storage, and I look forward to what we can all make possible together.”

Rachel Cougan. (Textio Photo)

— Language analytics startup Textio added former Chef human resources leader Rachel Cougan as its first VP of people.

Cougan joins the startup directly from Chef, where she was the director of employee experience for four years. In her new role at Textio, she will lead the company’s recruiting and HR functions.

“I joined Textio because it is a progressive product that is changing the way people hire,” Cougan said in an emailed statement. Textio’s “augmented writing” products analyze language for businesses, including flagging biased language in job postings.

“It encourages and allows companies to be more thoughtful with their language — more inclusive with it– and it also has the great benefit of making them more effective in their hiring efforts as well. And, because Kieran and Jensen are visionaries that have created a company and culture I couldn’t wait to join,” Cougan said, referring to Textio founders Kieran Snyder and Jensen Harris.

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