In a tumultuous year for Amazon Studios, Amazon’s motion picture and video division, head of film Jason Roppell has stepped down, according to Screen Daily. The move comes after an executive shakeup, and as new Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke leads the company’s shift to focus on more mainstream and commercial shows and movies.
Salke was hired as the studio’s head in February, after previous head Roy Price resigned following sexual harassment allegations. And just days after Price’s resignation, three more executives left the company. Those departures did not seem to be related to Price’s resignation.
Roppell has been at Amazon since 2012, holding his position as vice president and worldwide head of motion pictures for almost three years. Prior to that, he was the head of international content for Prime Video, and worked as the vice president of content at Netflix.
While Roppell was at the helm, Amazon’s film division worked on several films, most notably co-distributing Oscar nominees Manchester by the Sea and The Big Sick.
Screen Daily says that Roppell is expected to stay on as a consultant for the time being, and also reports that Ted Hope and Matt Newman will be the interim heads of the film division, reporting to Salke.
— San Francisco-based Nextdoor, the social media site for local communities, is looking for a new CEO. Co-founder and current CEO Nirav Tolia announced he was stepping down to employees, Recode reports. According to the email, Tolia is looking for his own replacement and will be transitioning into a chairman role once the position is filled.
Tolia led the company for almost eight years. According to Recode, Tolia made the decision because of its growth: Nextdoor is valued at over $1 billion, has $300 million in funding, is profitable, and is trying to go international.
Though Nextdoor is growing, Tolia told Recode that there were no plans for an IPO at the moment. He also denied that he was pushed out of the position by the board.
Nextdoor has caught some heat in Seattle and nationally in the past. The local, intimate nature of the Facebook-like platform that’s so closely tied to its neighborhoods has raised concerns with a possible fostering of fear of outsiders. Nextdoor has dealt with issues like users racial profiling, and complaining about homelessness without fear of public backlash.
Mays was previously the head of HR at Seattle-based home improvement website Porch.com, where she spent more than 5 years doing recruiting and human resources. Prior to Porch, Mays worked as a recruiter for Apex Systems and Google.
“We’re thrilled to have Kellie join the JetClosing leadership team as we ramp up our hiring and operations. Kellie brings a unique skillset and the expertise in helping startups scale,” JetClosing CEO Dan Greenshields said. “She will be responsible for attracting top talent during a vitally important period of growth.”
The startup uses machine learning and serverless computing to infuse tech into real estate and expedite the home closing process. JetClosing recently raised $20 million in Series A funding, bringing total funding to more than $25 million.
— Seattle-based startup LiveStories has hired Patrick Hearron as its new vice president of sales. LiveStories is a civic data company that helps government agencies find, analyze, and publish data.
Hearron was the vice president of global sales for the HasOffers platform at mobile analytics startup Tune before moving to LiveStories. There, he oversaw a team that included sales and engineering.
— Seattle-based real estate startup Citybldr, which uses tech to locate underutilized properties in markets like Seattle and Los Angeles and recently announced plans to buy some properties and sell them as a cluster for a larger return, has been preparing to raise a $100 million property investment fund.
The fund will cover the costs of purchasing the properties. It now has a CIO and fund manager in SRM Development principal Ryan Leong. SRM Development is an early investor in Citybldr.
Leong has been at Kirkland, WA-based property management company SRM Development for 13 years. He’s currently the COO and CFO at SRM Development, and will continue to be a partner at the real estate firm while working as CIO of the fund at Citybldr. In the new role, Leong will approve or deny every property that Citybldr’s AI system recommends the company buy.
“Ryan’s extensive real estate development experience and track record at SRM Development make him a great fit for the CIO role,” Citybldr CEO Bryan Copley said. “He holds the COO and CFO role at SRM, and has managed over $1B of real estate development projects including the development of Google’s campus in Kirkland.”
—In its third quarter results, Seattle-based software company F5 Networks announced that Chad Whalen, vice president of worldwide sales, would be promoted to the executive vice president of worldwide sales. In his previous role, Whalen worked on global public cloud sales and strategy. In his new one, he’ll be focusing on sales and strategy for F5’s new focus on multi-cloud application services.
Before joining F5 in 2017, Whalen was the vice president of global strategic alliances and cloud services at Fortinet.
F5 Networks is shifting its business to focus more on cloud-based computing. The company posted $542 million in revenue in the third quarter, beating Wall Street expectations. But as a part of the company’s change in focus, it’s cutting 230 jobs, or 5 percent of its workforce. F5 employs 4,475 people globally.
— Bellevue, WA-based education nonprofit College Success Foundation has appointed James Dorsey as its new president and CEO. Dorsey has over 35 years of experience in education reform. He was previously the executive director of Washington Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) and the president of MESA USA, initiatives to get underrepresented students into STEM.
Dorsey succeeds interim president and chief advancement officer, Michael Cheever.
The College Success Foundation aims to provide support and scholarships to low income students to help them graduate from high school and college.