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Diving into Google Cloud Next and the future of the cloud ecosystem

Posted by on Apr 14, 2019 in Artificial Intelligence, Cloud, Developer, Enterprise, Events, Government, Personnel, SaaS, Startups, Talent, TC | 0 comments

Extra Crunch offers members the opportunity to tune into conference calls led and moderated by the TechCrunch writers you read every day. This week, TechCrunch’s Frederic Lardinois and Ron Miller offered up their analysis on the major announcements that came out of Google’s Cloud Next conference this past week, as well as their opinions on the outlook for the company going forward.

Google Cloud announced a series of products, packages and services that it believes will improve the company’s competitive position and differentiate itself from AWS and other peers. Frederic and Ron discuss all of Google’s most promising announcements, including its product for managing hybrid clouds, its new end-to-end AI platform, as well as the company’s heightened effort to improve customer service, communication, and ease-of-use.

“They have all of these AI and machine learning technologies, they have serverless technologies, they have containerization technologies — they have this whole range of technologies.

But it’s very difficult for the average company to take these technologies and know what to do with them, or to have the staff and the expertise to be able to make good use of them. So, the more they do things like this where they package them into products and make them much more accessible to the enterprise at large, the more successful that’s likely going to be because people can see how they can use these.

…Google does have thousands of engineers, and they have very smart people, but not every company does, and that’s the whole idea of the cloud. The cloud is supposed to take this stuff, put it together in such a way that you don’t have to be Google, or you don’t have to be Facebook, you don’t have to be Amazon, and you can take the same technology and put it to use in your company”

Image via Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

Frederic and Ron dive deeper into how the new offerings may impact Google’s market share in the cloud ecosystem and which verticals represent the best opportunity for Google to win. The two also dig into the future of open source in cloud and how they see customer use cases for cloud infrastructure evolving.

For access to the full transcription and the call audio, and for the opportunity to participate in future conference calls, become a member of Extra Crunch. Learn more and try it for free. 


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Zeus raises $24M to make you a living-as-a-service landlord

Posted by on Mar 15, 2019 in 2nd Address, Airbnb, Apps, eCommerce, Finance, funding, Fundings & Exits, garry tan, initialized capital, Personnel, Real Estate, Recent Funding, Sonder, Startups, TC, Venture Capital, zeus | 0 comments

Cookie-cutter corporate housing turns people into worker drones. When an employee needs to move to a new city for a few months, they’re either stuck in bland, giant apartment complexes or Airbnbs meant for shorter stays. But Zeus lets any homeowner get paid to host white-collar transient labor. Through its managed ownership model, Zeus takes on all the furnishing, upkeep, and risk of filling the home while its landlords sit back earning cash.

Zeus has quietly risen to a $45 million revenue run rate from renting out 900 homes in 23 cities. That’s up 5X in a year thanks to Zeus’ 150 employees. With a 90 percent occupancy rate, it’s proven employers and their talent want more unique, trustworthy, well-equipped multi-month residences that actually make them feel at home.

Now while Airbnb is distracted with its upcoming IPO, Zeus has raised $24 million to steal the corporate housing market. That includes a previous $2.5 million seed round from Bowery, the new $11.5 million Series A led by Initialized Capital whose partner Garry Tan has joined Zeus’ board, and $10 million in debt to pay fixed costs like furniture. The plan is to roll up more homes, build better landlord portal software, and hammer out partnerships or in-house divisions for cleaning and furnishing.

“In the first decade out of school people used to have two jobs. Now it’s four jobs and it’s trending to five” says Zeus co-founder and CEO Kulveer Taggar. “We think in 10 years, these people won’t be buying furniture.” He imagines they’ll pay a premium for hand-holding in housing, which judging by the explosion in popularity of zero-friction on-demand services, seems like an accurate assessment of our lazy future. Meanwhile, Zeus aims to be “the quantum leap improvement in the experience of trying to rent out your home” where you just punch in your address plus some details and you’re cashing checks 10 days later.

Buying Mom A House Was Step 1

“When I sold my first startup, I bought a home for my mom in Vancouver” Taggar recalls. It was payback for when she let him remortgage her old house while he was in college to buy a condo in Mumbai he’d rent out to earn money. “Despite not having much growing up, my mom was a travel agent and we got to travel a lot” which Taggar says inspired his goal to live nomadically in homes around the world. Zeus could let other live that dream.

Zeus co-founder and CEO Kulveer Taggar

After Oxford and working as an analyst at Deutsche Bank, Taggar built student marketplace Boso before moving to the United States. There, he co-founded auction tool Auctomatic with his cousin Harjeet Taggar and future Stripe co-founder Patrick Collison, went through Y Combinator, and sold it to Live Current Media for $5 million just 10 months later. That gave him the runway to gift a home to his mom and start tinkering on new ideas.

With Y Combinator’s backing again, Taggar started NFC-triggered task launcher Tagstand, which pivoted into app settings configurer Agent, which pivoted into automatic location sharing app Status. But when his co-founder Joe Wong had to move an hour south from San Francisco to Palo Alto, Taggar was dumbfounded by how distracting the process was. Listing and securing a new tenant was difficult, as was finding a medium-term rental without having to deal with exhorbitant prices or sketchy Cragislist. Having seen his former co-founder go on to great success with Stripe’s dead-simple payments integration, Taggar wanted to combine that vision with OpenDoor’s easy home sales to making renting or renting out a place instantaneous. That spawned Zeus.

Stripe Meets OpenDoor To Beat Airbnb

To become a Zeus landlord, you just type in your address, how many bedrooms and bathrooms, and some aesthetic specs, and you get a monthly price quote for what you’ll be paid. Zeus comes in and does a 250-point quality assessment, collects floor plans, furnishes the property, and handles cleaning and maintenance. It works with partners like Helix mattresses, Parachute sheets, and Simple Human trash cans to get bulk rates. “We raised debt because we had these fixed investments into furniture. It’s not as dilutive as selling pure equity” Taggar explains.

Zeus quickly finds a tenant thanks to listings in Airbnb and relationships with employers like Darktrace and ZS Associates with lots of employees moving around. After passing background checks, tenants get digital lock codes and access to 24/7 support in case something doesn’t look right. The goal is to get someone sleeping there in just 10 days. “Traditional corporate housing is $10,000 a month in SF in the summer or at extended stay hotels. Airbnb isn’t well suited [for multi-month stays]. ” Taggar claims. “We’re about half the price of traditional corporate housing for a better product and a better experience.”

Zeus signs minimum two-year leases with landlords and tries to extend them to five years when possible. It gets one free month of rent as is standard for property managers, but doesn’t charge an additional rate. For example, Zeus might lease your home for $4,000 per month but gets the first month free, and rent it out for $5,000 so it earns $60,000 but pays you $44,000. That’s a tidy margin if Zeus can get homes filled fast and hold down its upkeep costs.

“Zeus has been instrumental for my company to start the process of re-location to the Bay Area and to host our visiting employees from abroad now that we are settled” writes Zeus client Meitre’s Luis Caviglia. “I particularly like the ‘hard truths’ featured in every property, and the support we have received when issues arose during our stays.”

At Home, Anywhere

There’s no shortage of competitors chasing this $18 billion market in the US alone. There are the old-school corporations and chains like Oakwood and Barbary Coast that typically rent out apartments from vast, generic complexes at steep rates. Stays over 30 days made up 15 percent of Airbnb’s business last year, but the platform wasn’t designed for peace-of-mind around long-term stays. There are pure marketplaces like UrbanDoor that don’t always take care of everything for the landlord or provide consistent tenant experiences. And then there are direct competitors like $130 million-funded Sonder, $66 million-funded Domio, recently GV-backed 2nd Address, and European entants like MagicStay, AtHomeHotel, and Homelike.

Zeus’ property unit growth

There’s plenty of pie, though. With 330,000 housing units in SF alone, Zeus has plenty of room to grow. The rise of remote work means companies whose employee typically didn’t relocate may now need to bring in distant workers for a multi-month sprint. A recession could make companies more expense-cautious, leading them to rethink putting up staffers in hotels for months on end. Regulatory red tape and taxes could scare landlords away from short-term rentals and towards coprorate housing. And the need to expand into new businesses could tempt the big vacation rental platforms like Airbnb to make acquisitions in the space — or try to crush Zeus.

Winners will be determined in part by who has the widest and cheapest selection of properties, but also by which makes people most comfortable in a new city. That’s why Taggar is taking a cue from WeWork by trying to arrange more community events for its tenants. Often in need of friends, Zeus could become a favorite by helping people feel part of a neighborhood rather than a faceless inmate in a massive apartment block or hotel. That gives Zeus network effect if it can develop density in top markets.

Taggar says the biggest challenge is that “I feels like I’m running five startups at once. Pricing, supply chain, customer service, B2B. We’ve decided to make everything custom — our own property manager software, our own internal CRM. We think these advantages compound, but I could be wrong and they could be wasted effort.”

The benefits of Zeus‘ success would go beyond the founder’s bank account. “I’ve had friends in New York get great opportuntiies in San Francisco but not take them because of the friction of moving” Taggar says. Routing talent where it belongs could get more things built. And easy housing might make people more apt to live abroad temporarily. Taggar concludes, “I think it’s a great way to build empathy.”


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Tesla’s new accounting chief has SolarCity roots

Posted by on Mar 14, 2019 in Automotive, Deepak Ahuja, Elon Musk, Harvard Business School, Jason Wheeler, Model 3, Personnel, SolarCity, Tesla, Transportation, Vaibhav Taneja, Zachary Kirkhorn | 0 comments

Tesla has turned to two insiders to manage and oversee the company’s finances.

The automaker officially tapped as its next chief financial officer Zachary Kirkhorn, a longtime employee who has been part of the automaker’s finance team for nine years, according to securities filings posted Thursday. The automaker also appointed Vaibhav Taneja, who led the integration of Tesla and SolarCity’s accounting teams, as its chief accounting officer. Taneja, who will report to Kirkhorn, will oversee corporate financial reporting, global accounting functions and personnel.

Taneja replaces Dave Morton, who resigned from Tesla in August a month after taking the job.

Kirkhorn’s new role was mentioned during the company’s earnings call in January when CEO Elon Musk announced that CFO Deepak Ahuja would be retiring. Ahuja was Tesla’s CFO from 2008 to 2015, and was replaced by Jason Wheeler. Ahuja returned in 2017 after Wheeler stepped down.

“There is no good time to make this change,” Ahuja said at the time. He noted that after two back-to-back profitable quarters, now might be the best time. Musk said Ahuja would likely stay on as a senior advisor “for probably years to come.”

Kirkhorn first joined Tesla in March 2010, moving up through various roles in the company’s finance department. He left between 2011 and 2012 to earn an MBA degree from Harvard Business School . His most recent role was as VP of Finance.

Kirkhorn will receive a stock option grant of $12 million and a restricted stock unit grant of $4 million, which will be granted and will vest over four years in accordance with Tesla’s standard equity policies, according to the securities filing posted Thursday.

Taneja was most recently Tesla’s corporate controller. His employment with the automaker began through SolarCity, the solar company that Tesla acquired in 2016. Taneja was vice president of SolarCity’s accounting department until February 2017. He then served as Tesla’s assistant corporate controller between February 2017 and May 2018 before taking the lead position.

Taneja will receive a stock option grant of $6 million and a restricted stock unit grant of $2 million, which will be granted and will vest over four years.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Bird lays off up to 5% of workforce

Posted by on Mar 14, 2019 in bird, electric scooters, layoffs, Personnel, Transportation | 0 comments

Electric scooter startup Bird has laid off between four to five percent of its workforce, The Information first reported. That comes out to about 40 people of its ~900-employee workforce. This comes shortly after Lyft laid off up to 50 employees in its bikes and scooters division.

“As we establish local service centers and deeper roots in cities where we provide service, we have shifting geographic workforce needs,” a Bird spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We are expanding our employee bases in locations that match our growing operations around the world, while developing an efficient operating structure at our Santa Monica headquarters. The recent events are a reflection of shifting geographical needs and our annual talent review process.”

The layoffs were part of Bird’s annual performance review process and only affected U.S.-based employees, TechCrunch has learned. Those laid off are eligible for severance, including health and medical benefits. Despite the layoffs, Bird is actively looking to hire for more than 100 positions throughout the company.

Earlier this month, Bird unveiled its platform to let entrepreneurs manage their own fleet of scooters in New Zealand. Bird Platform is part of Bird’s mission to bring its scooters across the world “and empower local entrepreneurs in regions where we weren’t planning to launch, to run their own electric scooter-sharing program with Bird’s tech and vehicles,” Bird CEO Travis VanderZanden told TechCrunch earlier this month.

Bird has raised more than $400 million in funding to date and is reportedly in the midst of raising an additional $300 million.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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National Cancer Institute chief tapped as acting FDA Commissioner

Posted by on Mar 12, 2019 in Altria, fda, Food and Drug Administration, Government, Health, juul, Ned Sharpless, Personnel, TC | 0 comments

In the wake of FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s abrupt resignation, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex M. Azar III announced that Dr. Ned Sharpless will serve as interim commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

Since October 2017, Dr. Sharpless served as director of the National Cancer Institute and, before that, worked as a researcher and hematologist-oncologist at the University of North Carolina. He is also a co-founder of G1 Therapeutics, a biotech firm focused on cancer treatment therapies that went public in May of 2017.

Dr. Sharpless is a temporary appointment, with Secretary Azar saying that the search is on for a permanent candidate for the position, according to the NYT.

The change comes at a tumultuous time for the e-cigarette industry in particular, which has been a focal point for Commissioner Gottlieb. As vaping continues to grow in popularity among teens, Gottlieb has enforced new rules for the industry and promised to keep a close watch on youth use of these products and the companies that sell them.

Gottlieb praised the appointment:

Whether or not an acting commissioner will be able to push forward initiatives related to the tobacco industry, such as limiting the nicotine in combustible cigarettes and enforcing stricter regulation on e-cigs, is unclear. However, Altria shares fell on the news.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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GM Cruise snags Dropbox HR head to hire at least 1,000 engineers by end of year

Posted by on Mar 11, 2019 in Arden Hoffman, Artificial Intelligence, Automotive, autonomous vehicles, chief technology officer, cloud storage, computing, cruise, Cruise Automation, Dan Ammann, Dropbox, executive, General Motors, Google, honda, Kyle Vogt, Lidar, Personnel, San Francisco, Seattle, Softbank, Software, software engineering, strobe, Transportation | 0 comments

GM Cruise plans to hire hundreds of employees over the next nine months, doubling its engineering staff, TechCrunch has learned. It’s an aggressive move by the autonomous vehicle technology company to double its size as it pushes to deploy a robotaxi service by the end of the year. Arden Hoffman, who helped scale Dropbox, will leave the file-sharing and storage company to head up human resources at Cruise.

The GM subsidiary, which has more than 1,000 employees, is expanding its office space in San Francisco to accommodate the growth. GM Cruise will keep its headquarters at 1201 Bryant Street in San Francisco. The company will also take over Dropbox headquarters at 333 Brannan Street some time this year, a move that will triple Cruise’s office space in San Francisco.

“Arden has made a huge impact on Dropbox over the last four years. She helped build and scale our team and culture to the over 2300 person company we are today, and we‘ll miss her leadership, determination, and sense of humor. While we’re sorry to see her go, we’re excited for her and wish her all the best in this new opportunity to grow the team at Cruise,” a Dropbox spokesperson said in an emailed statement. 

Prior to joining Dropbox, Hoffman was human resources director at Google for three years.

The planned expansion and hiring of Hoffman follows a recent executive reshuffling. GM president Dan Ammann left the automaker in December and became CEO of Cruise. Ammann had been president of GM since 2014, and he was a central figure in the automaker’s 2016 acquisition of Cruise and its integration with GM.

Kyle Vogt,  a Cruise co-founder who was CEO and also unofficially handled the chief technology officer position, is now president and CTO.

Cruise has grown from a small startup with 40 employees to more than 1,000 today at its San Francisco headquarters. It has expanded to Seattle, as well, in pursuit of talent. Cruise announced plans in November to open an office in Seattle and staff it with up to 200 engineers. And with the recent investments by SoftBank and Honda, which has pushed Cruise’s valuation to $14.6 billion, it has the runway to double its staff.

The hunt for qualified people with backgrounds in software engineering, robotics and AI has heated up as companies race to develop and deploy autonomous vehicles. There are more than 60 companies that have permits from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test autonomous vehicles in the state.

Competition over talent has led to generous, even outrageous, compensation packages and poaching of people with specific skills.

Cruise’s announcement puts more pressure on that ever-tightening pool of talent. Cruise has something that many other autonomous vehicle technology companies don’t — ready amounts of capital. In May, Cruise received a $2.25 billion investment by SoftBank’s vision fund. Honda also committed $2.75 billion as part of an exclusive agreement with GM and Cruise to develop and produce a new kind of autonomous vehicle.

As part of that agreement, Honda will invest $2 billion into the effort over the next 12 years. Honda also is making an immediate and direct equity investment of $750 million into Cruise.

Cruise will likely pursue a dual path of traditional recruitment and acquisitions to hit that 1,000-engineer mark. It’s a strategy Cruise is already pursuing. Last year, Cruise acquired Zippy.ai, which develops robots for last-mile grocery and package delivery, for an undisclosed amount of money. The deal was more of an acqui-hire and did not include any of Zippy’s product or intellectual property. Instead, it seems Cruise was more interested in the skill sets of the co-founders, Gabe Sibley, Alex Flint and Chris Broaddus, and their team.

In 2017, Cruise also acquired Strobe,  a LiDAR sensor maker. At the time, Cruise said Strobe would help it reduce by nearly 100 percent the cost of LiDAR on a per-vehicle basis.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb abruptly resigns from his post

Posted by on Mar 5, 2019 in fda, Food and Drug Administration, Government, Personnel, Scott Gottlieb, TC | 0 comments

That was unexpected, including by the FDA, apparently.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb resigned today, an administration official tells The Washington Post, adding that Gottlieb will relinquish the office in one month.

Unlike many people who leave the Trump administration, the resignation wasn’t sought or expected, reports the Post, which notes Gottlieb has recently hired senior staff and has been actively and aggressively diving into new initiatives.

In fact, while Gottlieb has since tweeted a statement from U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, commending Gottlieb as an “exemplar public health leader,” he was earlier today retweeting a morning interview he’d given on air with CNBC in which he said the FDA was putting 15 national retailers on notice for allegedly selling tobacco products and e-cigs to minors.

He also today pointed his Twitter followers to newly released guidance by the FDA around new steps it’s taking to protect Americans from intentionally adulterated food products.

Following the Post report, Gottlieb issued a statement saying: “I’m immensely grateful for the opportunity to help lead this wonderful agency, for the support of my colleagues, for the public health goals we advanced together, and the strong support” of Donald Trump and Health Secretary Azar. “This has been a wonderful journey and parting is very hard.”

Trump subsequently tweeted that Gottlieb had “done an absolutely terrific job” as commissioner, adding, “He and his talents will be greatly missed!”

According to the official who spoke with the Post, Gottlieb, 46, has tired of commuting to Washington from his home in Westport, Conn., and wants to spend more time with his family, including his wife and three young daughters.

Still, the timing seems odd, particularly given Gottlieb’s very public, and unfinished, fight against vaping, which has become one of the hallmarks of his time as FDA Commissioner. Indeed, beginning last spring, Gottlieb began ringing the alarm bells on e-cigarettes and their fast spread among underage users after earlier delaying regulations that could have removed many of their products from the market.

At a public hearing in January, Gottlieb warned that levels of e-cig use among young people is reaching new heights, with vaping rates nearly doubling among high school students between 2017 and 2018.

Tobacco stocks have already risen on the news. One suspects that execs at the privately held company Juul — which has been a specific target of Gottlieb given its popularity with young users and that in December sold a 35 percent stake in its business to tobacco giant Altria Group — are also breathing a sigh of relief at news of his resignation.

Gottlieb was nominated by Donald Trump to serve in his current post almost exactly two years ago, though he’d worked as the FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Medical and Scientific Affairs from 2005 to 2007. In between, Gottlieb, a trained physician, was a venture capitalist focused on healthcare investing with the firm New Enterprise Associates, which happens to be closing its biggest fund ever right now.

Previous FDA commissioners, each of whom has been appointed by the U.S. president with the consent of the Senate, have served varying lengths of time.

Gottlieb’s immediate predecessor, cardiologist Robert Califf, served the Obama administration for less than a year, after taking office in February 2016. He left after Trump was elected. Califf’s predecessor, physician Margaret Hamburg, was the commissioner from May 2009 through April 2015.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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CEO Richard Plepler is leaving HBO

Posted by on Feb 28, 2019 in HBO, Media, Personnel, Richard Plepler, WarnerMedia | 0 comments

Richard Plepler, who’s been at HBO since 1992 and served as CEO since 2013, is leaving the network.

In a staff memo, Plepler didn’t offer specific reasons for his departure but said, “Hard as it is to think about leaving the company I love, and the people I love in it, it is the right time for me to do so.”

The news comes less than a year after AT&T acquired HBO’s corporate parent Time Warner.

Shortly after the deal closed, WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey held a town hall meeting where he said HBO would need to grow its subscriber base and the amount of time those subscribers spend watching HBO content (a recording of the meeting was obtained by The New York Times). In the memo, Plepler said he’s told Stankey — “who has been nothing but gracious since we spoke” — that he “would work closely with him to assure a seamless and organic transition.”

This also comes as WarnerMedia plans to launch a streaming service of its own. While Plepler was CEO, Netflix has reshaped the TV landscape (and supplanted HBO as the leader in Emmy nominations), but it was also under his leadership that HBO launched its own direct-to-consumer subscription service, HBO Now, setting the stage for seemingly every network and media company launching a streaming service of its own.

In fact, the one time I interviewed Plepler was in 2013, at a red carpet event for “Game of Thrones” (I’m still not sure what I was doing there). When asked to speculate about what the future would hold, he replied, “Maybe even a broadband-only HBO delivery system. Who knows? We’ll see where that goes down the road.”



Source: The Tech Crunch

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Lime hires its first CFO

Posted by on Feb 21, 2019 in electric scooters, lime, morgan stanley, Nancy Lee, Personnel, Ted Tobiason, Transportation | 0 comments

Lime is hiring Ted Tobiason, former managing director in tech equity capital markets at Morgan Stanley, to serve as its chief financial officer.

This comes following Lime’s behemoth $310 million Series D round earlier this month. Led by Bain Capital Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Fidelity Ventures, GV and IVP, the round values Lime at $2.4 billion.

Lime, which got its beginnings as a bike-share company, has deployed its scooters and bikes in more than 100 cities in the U.S. and 27 international cities. Since June, Lime has more than doubled the number of cities where it operates in the U.S. Lime has also partnered with Uber to offer Lime scooters within the Uber app.

Additionally, Lime recently brought on Nancy Lee, formerly of Google, to lead its human resources efforts as chief human resources officer. Lee formerly worked at Google as its head of diversity. She retired from the company in December 2016, but has since found a new home with Lime.

“During her tenure at Google, Nancy played a key role in encouraging Google to disclose its diversity demographic data publicly,” Lime wrote in a blog post. “Her commitment to inclusion and transparency will be instrumental in leading Lime’s cross-cultural team throughout 2019 and beyond.”

Lime has been on a hiring spree as of late, filling out the ranks in its executive team. Earlier this month, Lime appointed its head of engineering, Li Fan, to CTO and hired Duke Stump, formerly of Lululemon, to serve as its CMO.

“Both Ted and Nancy have outstanding experience at companies that have scaled from small to large,” Lime CEO Toby Sun said in a statement. “With their leadership, we’re excited to take Lime to the next level in building a world-class business and people-first company.”


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aimé retires (and Bowser claims the castle)

Posted by on Feb 21, 2019 in Gaming, Nintendo, Personnel, reggie fils-aime, TC | 0 comments

Reggie Fils-Aimé is retiring after more than a decade spent as president of Nintendo of America. His career spanned many console generations, starting with the troubled GameCube and ending with the fabulously successful Switch. Reggie will be succeeded by Doug Bowser, who has worked under him for the last four years.

In a statement provided by Nintendo, Reggie (who frequently went by his first name in familiar fashion) offered the following farewell:

Nintendo owns a part of my heart forever. It’s a part that is filled with gratitude – for the incredibly talented people I’ve worked with, for the opportunity to represent such a wonderful brand, and most of all, to feel like a member of the world’s most positive and enduring gamer community. As I look forward to departing in both good health and good humor, this is not ‘game over’ for me, but instead ‘leveling up’ to more time with my wife, family and friends.

In addition, he posted a video farewell on Twitter:

Reggie has been one of Nintendo’s most public and recognizable faces ever since the early days of his ascendancy, which coincidentally was when I began covering E3 regularly for work. I had the privilege of meeting him numerous times for interviews and Q&As, as well as just bumping into him at this or that event.

His indefatigably on-message manner, as if he had a prepared remark for every possible question, was impossible to be frustrated with because of his undeniable charisma and passion for the games and devices he was promoting. It may have been hard to tell where Reggie ended and Nintendo PR began (perhaps now we’ll never know), but he was never anything less than helpful and engaging in my experience.

When he took over Nintendo of America, the company as a whole was recovering from a down period marked by a console (the GameCube) that had not kept pace with the competition and a handheld that, while popular, was flagging and clearly old-fashioned.

As most will remember, however, the company soon turned all that around with the DS and Wii, two of the best-selling consoles of all time and ones that returned Nintendo to its household name status, as well as vastly expanding the “gamer” demographic. Of course, the Wii U was a disappointment (though home to many great games), but since then the Switch has restored confidence in the company’s ability to innovate and deliver. With some 20 million sold since launch, Reggie is leaving on a high note.

Reggie’s involvement from the outside seemed to be to pretend these things didn’t exist until 30 seconds before going onstage to announce them, after which he would tirelessly promote them to every outlet and fan that managed to make eye contact with him. He was accessible, friendly and if not candid he was certainly honest and earnest at all times. He’ll certainly be missed by many, myself included.

Doug Bowser will take over as president on April 15, Reggie’s official last day. Bowser joined in 2015 and led the sales and marketing for the Switch, so you know he’s got momentum — plus, you know, the name.

I’ve asked Nintendo for any further information on Reggie’s departure, such as whether he’ll still be involved with the company at all, and will update this post if I hear back.

So long, Reggie, and best of luck on the next level!


Source: The Tech Crunch

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