Ex-Microsoft CTO David Vaskevitch is building an app store for autonomous machines

Ex-Microsoft CTO David Vaskevitch is building an app store for autonomous machines

12:52pm, 22nd March, 2019
Gaia co-founders Mehtap Ozkan, David Vaskevitch and Hal Berenson. (Gaia Photo) As a former longtime Microsoft chief technology officer, has seen most of the major computer revolutions. He’s ready for the next wave, autonomous machines, and is building a platform to get in on the ground floor. Vaskevitch is one of three co-founders behind Gaia, a new Seattle-area startup aims to be a kind of app store for robots. “Autonomous apps are not going to be like any kind of preceding apps,” Vaskevitch said. “We’re going to build a platform that makes it easier and even practical to write them.” Gaia, which has raised $10 million, is looking for partners who are building autonomous machines. The startup does not yet have a website. Vaskevitch said that solving the autonomous software problem will spread the adoption of these independent robots. “Imagine if Steve Jobs had introduced iPhone but not Xcode or the App Store,” Vaskevitch said. “Apple would be a much smaller platform.” Gaia plans to build a kind of app store for autonomous machines, such as delivery drones and robotic chefs. Above, a test model from Amazon’s delivery drone program. (Amazon Photo) In recent years, Vaskevitch has been working on Mylio, which is known for a photo management app that . Two years ago, Mylio from Chinese investors to build a private cloud. The Gaia team has borrowed Mylio’s hybrid mesh network to make its vision possible. “Gaia is designed from the ground up for tomorrow’s yin and yang distributed world,” Gaia co-founder wrote in a in 2017. “Applications can be written just once and still run on a phone, a tablet, in a car or robotic surgeon, in a server or in the cloud.” Ozkan comes from a venture capital background as the founder of Istanbul-based Golden Horn Ventures. The third member of Gaia’s founding team, , first met Vaskevitch at Microsoft and also worked on relational databases at Amazon. One problem the team foresees is that today’s infrastructure — billions of devices connected through the cloud — won’t work with tomorrow’s autonomous machines. Instead, much of the computing power will have to be done locally. “Nobody’s really worked in that problem for the last 20 years,” Vaskevitch said. In his blog post, Ozkan added: “The good news is that hardware to create the new world is either here or clearly on the way. The challenge is that the software to enable a world like this is almost entirely missing in action.” At least for now, the startup isn’t diving into the rat race for self-driving cars, focusing instead on an application platform for everything else. Among your future companions: autonomous chefs, security robots and delivery drones. “Ten or 15 years from now, we’re going to see autonomous machines in our homes, at work, everywhere we go,” Vaskevitch said.
Tech Moves: OfferUp bulks up leadership team, taps former Starz exec Ameesh Paleja as CTO

Tech Moves: OfferUp bulks up leadership team, taps former Starz exec Ameesh Paleja as CTO

9:35am, 21st March, 2019
Ameesh Paleja. (OfferUp Photo) Bellevue, Wash.-based mobile marketplace startup has hired as its new chief technology officer. Paleja was previously the CTO of premium cable network Starz and the CEO of movie ticket service Atom Tickets. Paleja also worked at Amazon for more than a decade, where he managed teams focused on products including Amazon Prime Instant Video and the Amazon Appstore. “To disrupt an entire industry, you need a simple idea that’s brilliantly executed,” Paleja said in a statement. “OfferUp is a marketplace leader because of their passionate focus on the customer.” Paleja is the latest addition to OfferUp’s leadership team. Last month it former Microsoft exec and Buddy co-founder Jeff MacDuff as director of engineering; Amazon veteran Bill Carr was COO in October; and former eBay exec Rodrigo Brumana CFO in September. OfferUp is . The 8-year-old company has raised $221 million to date from investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, Warburg Pincus, T. Rowe Price, Tiger Global Management and Jackson Square Ventures, among others. This past August the 240-person company as it aims for profitability and competes with Craigslist, eBay and Facebook Marketplace. OfferUp said it has 44 million active users and that its app has been downloaded 75 million times. The company last year, extending its reach beyond local commerce. Sarah Bilton. (OfferUp Photo) OfferUp also announced today that it hired as vice president of employee experience. Bilton was previously vice president of people practices at marijuana review and discovery platform Leafly. She also held senior human resources roles at e-commerce companies Julep Beauty and real estate tech company Zillow. “As a top five shopping app on iOS and Android, we’re rapidly entering our next stage of growth by investing in maturing business lines, and continuing to build our executive roster with strong leaders who have proven experience scaling companies,” said OfferUp co-founder and CEO Nick Huzar. Bellevue, Wash.-based OfferUp is ranked No. 13 on the list of the top Pacific Northwest privately-held companies.
Tech Moves: OfferUp bulks up leadership team, taps former Starz exec Ameesh Paleja as first CTO

Tech Moves: OfferUp bulks up leadership team, taps former Starz exec Ameesh Paleja as first CTO

8:33am, 21st March, 2019
Ameesh Paleja. (OfferUp Photo) Bellevue, Wash.-based mobile marketplace startup has hired as its first-ever chief technology officer. Paleja was previously the CTO of premium cable network Starz and the CEO of movie ticket service Atom Tickets. Paleja also worked at Amazon for more than a decade, where he managed teams focused on products including Amazon Prime Instant Video and the Amazon Appstore. “To disrupt an entire industry, you need a simple idea that’s brilliantly executed,” Paleja said in a statement. “OfferUp is a marketplace leader because of their passionate focus on the customer.” Paleja is the latest addition to OfferUp’s leadership team. Last month it former Microsoft exec and Buddy co-founder Jeff MacDuff as director of engineering; Amazon veteran Bill Carr was COO in October; and former eBay exec Rodrigo Brumana CFO in September. OfferUp is . The 8-year-old company has raised $221 million to date from investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, Warburg Pincus, T. Rowe Price, Tiger Global Management and Jackson Square Ventures, among others. This past August the 240-person company as it aims for profitability and competes with Craigslist, eBay and Facebook Marketplace. OfferUp said it has 44 million active users and that its app has been downloaded 75 million times. The company last year, extending its reach beyond local commerce. Sarah Bilton. (OfferUp Photo) OfferUp also announced today that it hired as vice president of employee experience. Bilton was previously vice president of people practices at marijuana review and discovery platform Leafly. She also held senior human resources roles at e-commerce companies Julep Beauty and real estate tech company Zillow. “As a top five shopping app on iOS and Android, we’re rapidly entering our next stage of growth by investing in maturing business lines, and continuing to build our executive roster with strong leaders who have proven experience scaling companies,” said OfferUp co-founder and CEO Nick Huzar. Bellevue, Wash.-based OfferUp is ranked No. 13 on the list of the top Pacific Northwest privately-held companies.
RealSelf CTO and product leader to depart, following earlier layoffs in January

RealSelf CTO and product leader to depart, following earlier layoffs in January

6:18pm, 8th March, 2019
More changes are going down at , the Seattle-based cosmetic treatment review platform. RealSelf CTO and vice president of product will leave the company within the next month, GeekWire has learned. Both are longtime RealSelf employees — Woodward joined the company in 2014; Brooks came on a year earlier. RealSelf confirmed the departures and provided this statement, attributed to CEO Tom Seery: Matt and Scott have made a huge impact at RealSelf and were instrumental to getting us to a place where we’ve attracted both world class technical talent and investors. Their transitions from the company over the next month is mutually understood as a healthy and appropriate change for the business and their teams. I am grateful to both and know they will continue to make a difference at their next role. For RealSelf this means we’re actively recruiting for a chief technology officer and VP of product, which represent rare opportunities to be part of a company that is transforming an industry and helping people make smart, confident self-improvement decisions. Before landing at RealSelf, Woodward spent six years at Microsoft and another seven years at Expedia. He co-founded a startup called Shutterous.com in 2011. Brooks is also an Expedia veteran, having spent more than 11 years at the travel giant. He was also a product leader at Zillow. We’ve reached out to Woodward and Brooks and will update this story when we hear back. This past January, RealSelf 14 percent of its workers, or 36 employees, as part of a company-wide reorganization. Founded in 2006, RealSelf raised its first substantial round of outside capital this past April to fuel growth of its Yelp-like marketplace business that helps people learn more about cosmetic procedures. That led the company to grow headcount by 40 percent last year. “Like many companies, you grow ahead of your growth and that growth just hasn’t been showing up at the rate we thought it would,” Seery told GeekWire in January. RealSelf blamed slowing site traffic on a Google search algorithm change made last year. The company planned to change its marketing strategy and will continue to hire in 2019, albeit at a reduced growth rate compared to 2018. Some executives are in Austin this weekend for SXSW, where RealSelf is the “RealSelf House of Modern Beauty.” RealSelf has more than two million reviews and 20,000 registered doctors on its platform, which helps users learn about procedures like botox, Invisalign, or breast implants. In 2017, 94 million people from 100 countries used RealSelf; it averages 10 million unique visitors per month.