September’s tech reshuffles
This autumn has kicked off with some high profile tech hires and corporate reshuffles. SoundCloud has added some financial firepower with the appointment of its first CFO, ex-Googler Holly Lim, Founders Fund has brought in serial entrepreneur Kevin Hartz, Jaunt has a new CEO in the shape of George Kliavkoff, whilst a series of new appointments at Apple reflect its continued focus on the augmented and virtual reality space.
A+E has promoted Amanda Hill fourteen months after she joined the US cable channel business. Hill has stepped up to chief marketing officer, having been chief creative officer, a new role at A+E Networks. She will oversee brand strategy, and consumer and business marketing in the US and internationally across A+E brands in linear TV, D2C and OTT. She joined from BBC Worldwide, relocating to New York, where she was chief brands officer, working on shows including Top Gear and Strictly Come Dancing.
Apple has recently made two key hires. One was from VR specialist and Rift maker, Oculus, the other previously worked at the illusive and intriguing mixed reality company, Magic Leap. The former is Yury Petrov, who held the very same role at Oculus since 2013. During his time at the VR group he worked in a variety of areas including R&D of “novel optical systems” for headsets. Apple also hired former Magic Leap staffer Zeyu Li. Li joined the mixed reality company back in July of last year, and had worked at cinematic VR company Jaunt before that. At Apple, he takes on the impressive-sounding role of Senior Computer Vision Algorithm Engineer.
BBC Trust chairman Rona Fairhead will step down when a unitary board replaces the BBC Trust, after being informed by the government that she would have to re-apply for her job. Fairhead was appointed Trust chair in 2014 and was asked by the previous government, under David Cameron, to stay on until the end of her four-year term to help oversee the move to a unitary board, which will replace the BBC Governors and the BBC Trust. Faihead will continue in her current role until it effectively ceases to exist, with the introduction with the new unitary board.
BenevolentAI, a leading artificial intelligence company, recently appointed IBM Watson’s Vice President of Watson Platform; Jérôme Pesenti as CEO of its technology division, BenevolentTech. Jérôme is a world leading pioneer in AI and has been focused on big data and machine learning for the past 16 years. He joins BenevolentAI from IBM Watson where he created and led the development of the Watson Platform. At IBM Jérôme also held the role of Chief Scientist for the core IBM Big Data product portfolio. Prior to joining IBM, Jérôme co-founded search and text analytics company Vivisimo that was acquired by IBM in 2012. At Benevolet AI, one of Jérôme’s key roles will be to develop and drive the wider applications of BenevolentAI’s technology outside of human healthcare and drug discovery.
Didi Chuxing, China’s largest ride-hailing company, has hired two distinguished security experts to lead a new U.S.-based research centre as part of a major push to increase its data security efforts. Dr Fengmin Gong, whose 30 year work history includes starting Palo Alto networks, and Zheng Bu, who worked with Gong at FireEye and spent time with McAfee among employers, have taken key positions at the company. Gong becomes Didi’s VP of information security strategy and vice president of the company’s new U.S.-based Didi Research Institute. Bu will be based in China where he’ll work directly with Gong as Didi’s VP of information security operations. In that role, he’ll manage the company’s existing information security team in China.
Serial entrepreneur Kevin Hartz has joined Founders Fund, San Francisco-based early-stage venture fund, as a partner. Hartz was most recently the co-founder and chief executive of event and ticketing startup Eventbrite. He’s the second high-profile hire that Founders Fund has made so far in 2016.
GGV Capital, the nearly 20-year-old cross-border venture firm, with offices on both Sand Hill Road and in Beijing and Shanghai, has brought some new, interesting people into its orbit: Jason Costa, who spent the last three years as a product manager at Pinterest and the two previous years working on Twitter’s platform, has joined the outfit as an entrepreneur-in-residence; he’ll be working with the firm’s current portfolio companies and sourcing new ones, particularly in the areas of e-commerce, social media, and mobile. Denise Peng, who spent nearly a dozen years with the Chinese online travel company Qunar, including as its COO, has meanwhile joined the firm as a venture partner. Peng will work out of the firm’s Beijing office.
Hello, the makers of the Sense sleep tracker, has hired Angela Chang , a former marketing lead for Nest and who was most-recently head of marketing at DoorDash, as its chief marketing officer. Her hire comes at a time when the company is making an aggressive push to get into larger retailers — most recently Best Buy and Target — and get the device and brand in front of as many people as possible before the holiday season.
Jaunt has announced that they’ve poached Hearst exec George Kliavkoff to take over at the VR studio as a CEO. Kliavkoff served as co-president of Hearst’s Entertainment & Syndication division. During his time at Hearst, Kliavkoff handled interests in cable networks like ESPN, Lifetime, A&E and History while also handling television content and the company’s burgeoning interests in print media. Jaunt co-founder and CTO Arthur van Hoff, who served as interim-CEO over the past few months, will be shifting back to his role as CTO.
Pinterest has hired a head of engineering, Ruben Ortega, for its new Seattle office. Ortega has previously served as vice president of technology at Nordstrom; engineering director at Google; CTO and VP of A9.com; director of Mechanical Turk at Amazon; and CTO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. At Pinterest’s first satellite engineering office, he will focus on ads and ranking, among other areas, with plans to grow to more than 30 people over the next year.
Shazam appoints ad sales vice-president. Content recognition and second-screen app provider Shazam has appointed Jeff Pabst as its new vice president, advertising sales, for its West Coast region. Pabst joins from social data provider ShareThis and will be tasked with creating new ad formats that build on Shazam’s mix of display, audio, visual, and location-based technologies.
Sky News has named Cristina Nicolotti Squires as director of content, placing her in charge of output across all Sky platforms including television, mobile, social media and radio. As part of her role, Squires will also head up special programming including Sky News documentaries, debate programmes and the weekly panel show. She will join the sky News leadership team, working with head of Sky News, John Ryley, deputy head, Graham McWilliam and director of newsgathering and operations, Jonathan Levy. Squires, formerly a journalist with ITN, joins Sky from 5 News where she currently serves as editor, leading a team of 50 staff.
SoundCloud has hired Holly Lim as the streaming music platform’s first chief financial officer. Lim, who arrives from Google, will be splitting her time between SoundCloud HQ in Berlin and its New York City office. At Google, Lim worked as the director of business operations for the joint Cloud/Google for Work Enterprise organisation. The addition of Lim as CFO comes five months after the launch of the company’s paid subscription service, SoundCloud Go, and two-and-a-half months after raising $100 million in a latest funding round.
TravelSupermarket has appointed Nigel Pocklington as managing director. Pocklington’s appointment fills a vacancy left by Vic Darvey, who has become MD of MoneySuperMarket. He joins from Ebookers, where he was president. Meanwhile, James Villas has announced Sean Lowe will replace MD Mark Bloxham, who is leaving the company. Lowe is MD of RCI EMEA & India and his role has been expanded to include James Villas.
YouTube has appointed music industry veteran and former Warner Music and Def Jam president Lyor Cohen as the video site’s global head of music. Cohen has 32 years experience, starting out in the 1980s as road manager for rap groups Run-D.M.C and the Beastie Boys. He went on to manage both groups, alongside a host of rappers like LL Cool J, Public Enemy and Eric B and Rakim and then served as president of Def Jam Recordings for 10 years, eventually orchestrating the sale of the label to Universal in 1998. After the buyout Cohen continued as president of Island Def Jam Music Group and then worked as CEO and president of recorded music at Warner Music Group between 2004 and 2012.