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Sunday, 17 May 2015 10:48

13 Top Digital Media C-level and Board Changes, Including Fortune 500 Players Featured

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Google Communications and Policy Head Joins Uber; Commerce Exec Leaves for Jawbone

Rachel Whetstone, 48, Google’s SVP of Communications and Policy has left. She has joined Uber in a similar role. The position has been held by David Plouffe, the high-profile former adviser to President Barack Obama, who was hired less than a year ago, at Uber. He has been elevated to the role of chief adviser to the company and its chief executive Travis Kalanick, and will also sit on the board of Uber.

Before starting her career with Google in Europe in 2005, Whetstone was Michael Howard’s chief of staff after he became Conservative leader in 2003.

Jessica Powell, one of Whetstone’s key staffers at Google, will become the interim global communications head, reporting to chief legal officer David Drummond. The policy staff that Whetstone had under her will now report directly report to Drummond, whom she had reported to.

Jawbone has appointed Sameer Samat, Google’s VP of Product Management, leading the Shopping team at Google, as its new president. Jawbone has had a president before, former Microsoft exec Mindy Mount, who left the company in early 2014 after less than a year in the job. The latest hiring comes after Jawbone completed a $300 million funding that values the company at about $3 billion.

Samat has been at Google since 2008, working on a largely commerce-focused products from their beginnings, such as Google Shopping and Google Express, as well as flight search and hotel ads. Before that he worked at Kofax and also co-founded Mohomine, a text-mining software startup.

Facebook’s Head of Security Joins Uber

Joe Sullivan, the head of security for Facebook, has joined Uber as its first Chief Security Officer. Sullivan has been Facebook’s CSO for five years, and before that was an Associate General Counsel in its legal division. He spent about seven years at PayPal and eBay and eight years as a federal prosecutor specializing in cyber-crime.

Alibaba Group Appoints New Board Member and CEO to Fuel International Growth

Börje Ekholm joins as an independent director of Alibaba Group’s Board. Ekholm currently serves as President and CEO of Investor AB of Sweden and is a member of Investor AB’s board. He newly assumed responsibilities as head of Patricia Industries, a newly created division of Investor AB to manage the company’s privately-held and controlled companies. He is the non-executive Chairman of NASDAQ OMX and serves on the boards of global technology companies such as Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson.

Daniel Zhang, currently COO of Alibaba Group, will become CEO. Zhang has been with the company for eight years and has held top management positions across the organization. He is also one of the founding members of the Alibaba Partnership. Daniel first joined the company as CFO of Taobao Marketplace in 2007. He served as president of, COO of Taobao Marketplace and general manager of Taobao Mall.

Current CEO, Jonathan Lu, will work with Zhang to ensure a successful transition in the coming months. Lu will remain on the board of directors of Alibaba Group as Vice Chairman.

Alibaba appointed YU Yongfu as president of the Company’s online marketing unit, Alimama, to spearhead the business into new areas of growth. YU joined Alibaba Group last June to lead the Company’s mobile business unit consisting of Autonavi and UCWeb. Prior to joining Alibaba Group, YU was CEO of China’s largest mobile browser company, UCWeb. UCWeb was acquired by Alibaba Group in June 2014. Prime Now Exec Joins Lyft for New COO Role

Rex Tibbens, Amazon's VP of logistics unit who also oversaw infrastructure development of its Prime Now program, has left. Tibbens assumes the COO role at Lyft. Before joining Amazon in 2011, he was most recently Executive Director, Global Services at Dell, progressing through several roles at the company he joined in 1999.

eBay Adds Three New Members to Executive Team; PayPal Appoints General Counsel and SVP of Strategy and Growth

eBay appointed three new executives who will fill key positions on CEO-designate Devin Wenig’s leadership team as the company prepares for the separation of eBay and PayPal into independent publicly traded companies in the second half of 2015. Joining eBay are former Home Depot executive Harry “Hal” Lawton, who will head eBay North America; former Agilent Technologies executive Marie Oh Huber, who will become eBay’s General Counsel; and former NYSE executive Scott Cutler, who will lead StubHub.

Lawton, who will be head of eBay North America, joins from Home Depot, where he has served as SVP of Merchandising since 2013. Lawton has held a number of leadership positions at Home Depot including SVP & President of the online business, VP of Merchandising Finance and Director of Corporate Strategy. Prior to that, Lawton was an Associate Principal at McKinsey.

General Counsel Marie Oh Huber joins eBay from Agilent Technologies, where she served as SVP, General Counsel and Secretary since 2009, and as VP, Assistant General Counsel and Assistant Secretary from 2000 to 2009. Prior to Agilent, Huber was an M&A and corporate lawyer at Hewlett-Packard, starting her career at large law firms in New York and San Francisco.

Huber will be replacing Michael Jacobsen, SVP, General Counsel and Secretary of eBay who plans to leave the company following the separation of the business.

Cutler, who will be President of eBay’s StubHub business, a global fan-to-fan ticket marketplace, most recently was EVP, Head of Global Listings, for the New York Stock Exchange. Prior to NYSE, Cutler held a number of leadership positions at investment firms, where his specialty was technology. Cutler is a seasoned global business executive with expertise in technology-enabled platform businesses.

Two new leaders will be joining PayPal as it prepares to separate from eBay and become an independent, publicly-traded company later this year. Both will report to PayPal president and CEO designee Dan Schulman and serve on the company’s leadership team.

Louise Pentland will become PayPal’s new General Counsel. Pentland is the former EVP and Chief Legal Officer at Nokia and comes to PayPal with deep legal and commercial knowledge along with a strategic understanding of the mobile technology landscape. Pentland will be responsible for PayPal’s compliance with financial and regulatory requirements around the world.

Jonathan Auerbach has been named PayPal’s SVP of Strategy and Growth. Auerbach comes to PayPal from Singtel where he served as CEO of Group Digital Life, leading the company’s global portfolio of digital businesses as well as its $250 million venture fund. Auerbach will be responsible for developing the company’s global strategy and identifying opportunities through partnerships, investments and acquisitions.

Flickr Head Departs Yahoo

Flickr head Bernardo Hernandez has left Yahoo, just as the company is rolling out Flickr 4.0, the latest redesign of the photo-sharing and storage service across the Web, mobile and desktop. He left the company for personal reasons and does not have another job lined up. A Spanish technology entrepreneur and business angel, Hernandez joined Yahoo in 2013. He previously was Director of Product Management at Google and MD at Zagat. He has started, alone or with other partners, several Internet companies in Spain, such as, or

Twitter Stretches Marketing Responsibilities to CFO; Augments Finance Team

Twitter's CFO Anthony Noto is now taking over the company’s marketing department. Twitter has hired five new senior-level finance executives to streamline the teams reporting to Noto.

Todd Morgenfeld will join as VP of finance, leaving Hewlett-Packard where he was SVP of treasury, financial analytics and corporate development. He will be taking on a similar role at Twitter where he will be in charge of corporate development, real estate, treasury and infrastructure. He is a seasoned finance executive serving Goldman Sachs, and Silver Lake, where he worked on the private-equity firm’s buyout offer for Dell.

Steve McGuinness, Goldman alum, joins Twitter as VP of global and finance operations. McGuinness is a 19-year Goldman veteran. He served as co-COO of Goldman’s investment management arm and co-led the bank’s special-situations group, which used Goldman’s own capital to place bets on credit and distressed investments. He has spent the last three years at Strategic Value Partners, which specializes in distressed-debt investments. At Twitter, McGuinness will be in charge of areas such as payroll, equity, employee support and security.

Two other finance managers, Amy Johnson of Google and Greg Ligotti of Peet’s Coffee Tea, will serve as directors on McGuinness’s finance operations team. Twitter is also getting a new chief accounting officer. Deloitte Partner since 1989, Robert Kaiden replaces Luca Baratta, who stepped down from that role earlier this year.

TripAdvisor’s CFO Resigns

CFO Julie M.B. Bradley, 46, is resigning from TripAdvisor to spend more time with her family and pursue other personal interests. Bradley will continue to serve as TripAdvisor's CFO for an interim period and will help with the recruitment and transition process to a new CFO. Upon her departure, she will continue to serve as a board member of the TripAdvisor Charitable Foundation.

Bradley has served as the CFO, Chief Accounting Officer and Treasurer since October 2011. Earlier, she served as CFO of Art Technology Group, VP of Finance of Akamai Technologies, and a Manager at Deloitte specializing in multi-national corporate taxation.

Chinese Video Site Appoints Former Lenovo China Exec as CFO

One of China's biggest video sites Youku Tudou named Hugh Wu as the SVP and CFO. Wu has nearly 16 years of senior financial management experience from renowned multinational and domestic corporations. Before joining Youku Tudou, Wu served as CFO of Lenovo China and Asia Pacific Emerging Markets, excluding Australia, New Zealand, and Japan (APEM), and VP of Lenovo Group. Prior to Lenovo, Wu served as the Senior Finance Controller at Microsoft Greater China, CFO and Executive Director of BOD at, and CFO at Lenovo Mobile.

Zynga Adds Former Genentech CFO as Director; CEO Mattrick Replaced by Founder Pincus and COO Resigns

Zynga elected Louis J. Lavigne, Jr., 66, to serve as a member of the Board. Lavigne is currently the Managing Director of Lavrite, a management consulting firm specializing in corporate finance, accounting, growth strategy and management. Prior to joining Lavrite, Lavigne spent more than 23 years at Genentech, primarily serving as CFO from 1988-2005. Prior to Genentech, he held various financial management positions with Pennwalt Corporation.

Zynga’s current CEO Don Mattrick, 51, will depart the Company and the Board. Mark Pincus, 49, Zynga's founder and chairman, will return to the role of CEO.

Prior to taking on the role of CEO at Zynga, Mattrick was president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, overseeing the company's Xbox division. He left Microsoft to join Zynga in July 2013, prior to the Xbox One's launch, and was tasked with turning around the company's fortunes.

Pincus founded Zynga in 2007 and in 2009, a nonprofit organization dedicated to using social games for social good. Pincus has pursued his passion for creating Internet products since 1995, when he founded FreeLoader, the first web-based push company. Later, he founded, a pioneer in automating tech support, and took it public. Then, in 2003, he launched, one of the first social networks. Pincus most recently founded superlabs in 2014, a San Francisco-based product lab focused on developing products that connect and empower people.

Clive Downie provided notice of his resignation from his position as COO of Zynga. He has joined as CMO of Unity Technologies, the developer of Unity, one of the most popular licensed 3D game engines.

Benefitfocus Promotes COO to Additional President Designation

Online Benefits Enrollment Portal Benefitfocus promoted Ray August from COO to president and COO of the company. August joined Benefitfocus in 2014, and as president and COO he will expand his leadership of operations and customer-centric initiatives that support Benefitfocus’ near-term growth and profitability objectives. August has decades of leadership experience in the technology industry and most recently served as general manager of the financial services group of CSC, where he worked for 16 years prior to joining Benefitfocus.

Tumblr Product SVP Joins Handy

Ken Little will be joining home cleaning services company Handy as the company’s new CTO. Little comes from Tumblr, where he was SVP Product and Engineering. Before that he was VP, Engineering and Director, Engineering at the company. Prior to Tumblr he worked as director of engineering at Etsy and director of front-end operations for the New York Times.

Flipkart Hires Top Google Exec as Head of Engineering

Flipkart, known in India as the most popular online shopping marketplace and outside India for the more than $2 billion it raised from investors, has hired Google exec Peeyush Ranjan as its Head of Engineering. Ranjan most recently ran the engineering group for Google’s Android One project, an initiative to help create lower-cost phones for emerging markets, starting with India. Ranjan also oversaw engineering for Motorola’s Value Devices group while it was owned by Google and ran the R&D team for Google India. 

His hire comes shortly after Flipkart hired another Google exec, Punit Soni, as its chief product officer in March.

Date Range: March 31st - May 15th

Read 2660 times Last modified on Thursday, 10 September 2020 18:08
Dora Vell

Dora Vell is the Managing Partner of Vell Executive Search, a boutique executive search firm in Boston focused on recruiting technology executives and board members. Vell has successfully completed numerous board member and C-level executive searches, including CEOs, COOs, CIOs, and Vice Presidents - at both public and private companies.

Prior to founding the firm in 2005, Vell was a Partner at Heidrick & Struggles' Technology practice for seven years.  Before her career in executive search, she worked at IBM for 11 years, managing software engineering organizations of 100 people and software sales organizations with revenues of $150 million. She has also served as an executive assistant to the CEO of IBM Canada for one year.

Vell holds seven worldwide software patents. She has published several Business of Leadership reports on governance and leadership and has been quoted in numerous articles including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Business Week, Fortune, Agenda Week, MSNBC, Mass High Tech, the OPUS for the World Economic Forum, Boston Business Journal, The Globe & Mail, CIO Magazine, and IEEE. She also has been a featured speaker on leadership at numerous conferences and at Columbia University's MBA program.

Vell is a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), the Boston CEO Roundtable. She has served on the boards of Framingham State, Entrepreneur's Organization, Goodwill, Mary Centre for developmentally handicapped adults,, and RBC Capital Partners.

She has received an MBA from the University of Toronto, a Master in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo, and a Bachelor in Computer Science from Carleton. She has also completed the MIT Entrepreneurial Master’s program.

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