— A trio of ex-Zillow employees today launched Kingston Marketing Group, a new communications and marketing firm based in Kingston, Wash. The three partners include:
- Katie Curnutte, an 11-year Zillow vet and former real estate journalist who was most recently senior vice president of communications and public affairs.
- Whitney Curry, a 12-year Zillow vet and the company’s first intern who was most recently director of brand management.
- Nancy Poznoff, former vice president of marketing at Zillow who previously spent nearly 15 years at Starbucks.
Kingston will target companies that need help going through significant transitions such as an initial launch, an acquisition or IPO, and other events. They’ll tap their in-house experience working on key milestone projects for Zillow and Starbucks.
“Over the past couple of years we’ve seen a lot of companies in Seattle and beyond experiencing huge growth and change,” Curnutte told GeekWire. “We’ve been in their shoes, so this seems like the perfect time for Kingston Marketing Group to use our experience and empathy to help other leaders navigate that change.”
The firm is self-funded and based in Kingston, a small town on the shores of Puget Sound just north of Seattle. The partners all live near Kingston and “rent is significantly less than it would be in Seattle — startup life!” Curnutte noted.
“Kingston Marketing Group is at the top of my ‘recommend’ list whenever I speak with great entrepreneurs looking for strategic marketing and communication partners,” Amy Bohutinsky, venture partner at TCV and former COO of Zillow, said in a statement. “The pairing of Katie, Nancy and Whitney is truly a powerful partnership. Their collective and individual experience runs deep among some of the world’s most beloved consumer brands, spanning seed stage through household names. They are strategic, thoughtful, big-thinking and fast-moving — a combination that’s hard to find.”
— Funko, the pop culture consumer products company based in Everett, Wash., added Sarah Kirshbaum Levy to the company’s board this week. Levy is COO at Viacom Media Networks and was previously COO at Nickelodeon for more than a decade.
“I’ve admired Funko for cornering the market on everything pop culture across an array of consumer products,” Levy said in a statement. “I’m honored and excited to be joining the board during this period of high growth and great future potential for Funko.”
Shares of Funko have spiked more than 70 percent this year. The company is known for its Pop! figurines.
“Sarah brings over two decades of operational excellence in managing television networks, consumer products and location based entertainment licensing businesses as well as a wide range of websites and apps. We are thrilled to bring her to our Board of Directors,” Ken Brotman, chairman of the Funko board, said in a statement. “Her leadership in developing and growing Viacom’s global consumer products business, which has included seven $1B brands at retail during her tenure, makes her a perfect fit for Funko.”
— Two Amazon leaders are moving on to new adventures. Ramona Pierson, previously head of learning products at Amazon, joined Price Waterhouse Coopers “to innovate next generation solutions in computing, automation, and AI to advance the enterprise and transform workplace learning at scale,” she wrote in a LinkedIn update. Pierson previously founded Declara, an education tech startup based in Silicon Valley.
Asha Thurthi, formerly vice president of product management for Audible, joined Dropbox as vice president of Paper, the company’s collaborative document-editing service. She’ll work out of Dropbox’s office in San Francisco.
“As a long-term user of team collaboration products myself, I see an exciting opportunity in front of us,” she said in a statement. “I love companies that build products that improve the quality of customers’ lives. I believe the growth potential for Paper is endless, so I’m very excited to be a part of this passionate team on this journey.”
— Gordon McHenry Jr., a longtime Seattle-area philanthropy leader, was named the new president and CEO at United Way of King County. McHenry previously spent more than two decades at Boeing and is CEO of Solid Ground, a Seattle nonprofit that works to dismantle poverty. He replaces Jon Fine, who held the CEO role for the past 19 years.