Tech Moves: UW hires director for new DoD program; Microsoft vet joins EQT; and more – GeekWire

Justin Dunnicliff. (UW Photo)

— The University of Washington announced a new partnership with the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN), a program within the Department of Defense, that will spur students and researchers to come up with solutions for communications, data management, artificial intelligence, logistics, disaster relief, healthcare, and other areas related to national security.

NSIN tapped Justin Dunnicliff as its university program director at the UW. He’ll be based at the CoMotion, the university’s innovation hub, and will run programs including Hacking for Defense and Starts. Dunnicliff graduated from the UW in 2006 and joined the DoD in 2013.

“The University of Washington is unquestionably one of the premier research institutions in the world and I see many opportunities for collaboration,” Dunnicliff said in a statement. “As a UW alumnus, I am particularly excited to bring the full spectrum of NSIN programming to the University and to work alongside UW faculty and students to address key national security challenges.”

NSIN has university program directors at nine other universities. The partnership will help connect students to employment opportunities via NSIN’s Hirethon program.

“UW has enormous strengths in many areas relevant to DoD priorities,” UW Vice Provost for Innovation and CoMotion Director François Baneyx said in a statement. “The appointment of Justin and a formal relationship with NSIN will enhance the ability of our faculty to conduct research with the DoD, provide new learning opportunities for our students, and strengthen the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem by engaging innovators across the Pacific Northwest.”

Meredith Han (Photo courtesy of Han).

— Early Amazon employee and angel investor Meredith Han is now vice president of product at Seattle real estate startup FlyHomes. 

She was most recently COO at retail analytics startup SoundCommerce. In addition to Amazon, her e-commerce experience includes nine years as senior director of global e-commerce at Brooks Running.

“The last seven months of COVID have deepened my appreciation of the importance of “home” in everyone’s lives,” Han told GeekWire in an email. “I am thrilled to join the great team at Flyhomes to focus on building real estate products and experiences that help more customers find and buy a home that they love in a rapidly changing real estate environment.”

Flyhomes buys houses directly with cash and then holds onto them until its buyer clients secure financing. The goal is to present its customers as the equivalent of cash buyers, helping them gain an edge in competitive markets. Flyhomes raised $141 million in fresh funding last year.

— Former Microsoft Corporate Vice President Marc Brown joined EQT as a partner and global head of EQT Growth, a new strategic initiative focused on technology. Brown spent more than two decades at the Redmond, Wash. tech giant.

Founded in 1994, EQT is a global investment organization with 20 active funds headquartered in Sweden. The private equity company also develops and owns companies around the globe.

At Microsoft, Brown oversaw corporate development, M&A and strategic investments including the company’s acquisitions of LinkedIn and GitHub. Brown currently serves on the board of Seattle-based PayScale.

Dinesh Venugopal. (PK Photo)

— Portland, Ore.-based digital services company PK (formerly ProKarma) appointed Dinesh Venugopal as its new CEO. He will take over starting in November and be based in Seattle.

Venugopal was most recently president at Mphasis, a global technology services company headquartered in Bangalore. He previously lead engineering and R&D at Houston, Texas-based BMC Software.

“The PK founders have built a great company and I’m excited to be a part of the next phase of its rich history and growth,” said Venugopal.

PK is backed by investment firm The Carlyle Group and has 3,800 employees across four countries.

— Seattle cryptocurrency ATM startup Coinme added three new executives:

 Eddie Ponce as chief compliance officer. Ponce led compliance at MoneyGram and most recently at Emergent Technology.

Nathan Rozendaal as VP of product. Rozendaal was most recently director of product at Rosetta Stone and previously VP of product at Napster.

Julie Ingle as VP of marketing. Ingle joins Coinme from global cryptocurrency investing platform Abra. She was previously head of marketing at Affirm, a San Francisco fintech startup.

Coinme sells Bitcoin through ATMs and CoinStar kiosks, a familiar fixture at grocery stores. The six-year old company raised $5.5 million earlier this year as sales are increasing amid the global pandemic.

Holly Vance. (Neoleukin Therapeutics Photo)

— Neoleukin Therapeutics, a University of Washington spinout that merged with Vancouver, B.C.-based Aquinox Pharmaceuticals, appointed Holly Vance as its general counsel.

Vance was most recently associate general counsel at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She previously spent a decade at K&L Gates as a partner. In addition to her law degree, she has a doctorate in pharmacy, both from the UW.

— Fred Hutch promoted Paul Buckley to VP and chief diversity and inclusion officer. He will continue to co-lead the research organization’s office of diversity, equity and inclusion with colleague Chris Li.

Buckley joined Fred Hutch in February from Colorado College and previously served as an assistant dean at Dartmouth. He has a doctorate in cultural foundation of education from Syracuse University.

—Silicon Valley mobile fuel delivery service Booster Fuels appointed Joe Levey as its Pacific Northwest operations director. Levey previously spent five years at DHL.

Booster Fuels expanded its service to the Seattle region in November. The startup originally launched in Seattle before relocating to California. Seattle-based firms Madrona Venture Group, Maveron and Vulcan Capital are among its investors.

— Event management software startup Hubb announced Dan Sperring joined the Vancouver, Wash.-based company as SVP of customer success. He spent seven years at Airship, a Portland, Ore.-based mobile marketing startup, and was most recently director of North American account management.

— Seattle startup ThruWave hired Lance Troutman as vice president of sales. The company raised a $6.4 million round earlier this year to expand its technology that uses millimeter waves to see through packaging in retail and e-commerce warehouses.

Troutman was most recently an account executive at global supply chain and warehouse automation provider Dematic. He previously was a client executive at Kiva Systems, which was acquired by Amazon and established the e-commerce giant’s robotics hub in Boston.

From left to right: Bob Zak and Jim Gort. (PowerLight Photos)

— PowerLight Technologies, a Kent, Wash.-based company developing technology that uses high-intensity light to beam power, announced three new hires:

Bob Zak as COO. Zak, a former executive at Ecova and Powerit Solutions, has been an advisor to the company since 2016.

Bert Haskell as VP of engineering. Haskell was most recently CTO at distributed energy startup Alltime Power.

Jim Gort as chief engineer. Gort was previously chief engineer of TASE, a UAV camera system developed by Cloud Cap Technology.

Founded in 2007, PowerLight Technologies was formerly known as LaserMotive.

— Eugene, Ore.-based biotech startup Enviral Tech appointed David Fong as vice president of marketing and Micah Kimbro as director of sales. The company also announced a $1.5 million seed round led by Rogue Venture Partners.

Founded in March of this year, Enviral Tech provides testing kits to detect COVID-19 on surfaces, specifically in long-term care facilities for seniors. It will use the new funding to expand its viral detection solutions in buildings.

— Seattle’s new National Hockey League franchise, the Seattle Kraken, announced new operations hires including Eric Mathiasen as hockey operations developer and John Mavroudis as hockey operations data engineer.

Mathiasen was most recently a senior technical designer at Microsoft. Mavroudis joins the franchise from Hellosign where he was a technical program manager.

— Washington State Health Officer Kathy Lofy announced that she will be stepping down from her position later this year.

“Her leadership, her dedication to science and data have been invaluable not only during the COVID pandemic, but throughout her entire time at DOH,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

Lofy has been at the Washington State Department of Health for more than 13 years and became state health officer in 2014. She cited personal reasons for resigning.


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