Tech Strikes: Madrona hires former Bezos technical advisor; Seattle Kids’s names COO

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Wei Gao (left) and Anna Baird. (Madrona Photos)

— Seattle-based firm Madrona Venture Group appointed Wei Gao as venture partner and Anna Baird as operating partner.

Gao was most recently chief operating officer at Hopin, a London-based event management software provider.

Prior to Hopin, Gao served 16 years at Amazon, including a stint from July 2018 to January 2020 as technical advisor to Amazon founder and then-CEO Jeff Bezos. She then became vice president of Amazon Grocery before moving to Hopin in September 2021. Gao is also a board member at the Pacific Science Center.

Baird was previously chief operating officer at Outreach, a Seattle-based sales platform startup. Her other previous roles include chief financial officer of digital health company Livongo, senior vice president at McAfee, and partner at global professional services firm KPMG.

Madrona also recently opened a new office in Palo Alto, Calif., and hired two people based there: Karan Mehandru and Vivek Ramaswami, who were previously at Steadfast Capital Ventures.

Other key personnel changes across the Pacific Northwest tech industry:

Jamie Phillips. (Seattle Children’s Photo)
  • Seattle Children’s appointed Jamie Phillips as senior vice president and chief operating officer. Phillips was previously chief operating officer and vice president of children’s services at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland, California. 
  • Univ. of Washington president Ana Mari Cauce, a professor of psychology, was elected to the National Academy of Medicine.
  • Former Nike CEO Erik Sprunk joined the board of directors of Jigx, a Seattle-area mobile software development company. He also is a new investor in the startup.
  • Bungie, the development studio behind the Destiny franchise of video games, hired Alison Lührs as associate narrative director on Destiny 2. Lührs was previously creative lead of worldbuilding at Wizards of the Coast.
  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center professor Larry Corey received a lifetime achievement award from the Infectious Diseases Society of America. “He is truly a giant in the field,” said his longtime collaborator and friend Anthony Fauci, medical advisor to U.S. President Joe Biden, prior to the ceremony.
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