Tech Moves: 9Mile Labs co-founder Sanjay Puri joins Avalara; open-standards advocate leaves Microsoft; Amplero board adds big names

9Mile Labs co-founder Sanjay Puri speaks at the accelerator’s 2016 Demo Day in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo)

Tax automation startup Avalara has been quietly stocking up on high-profile tech leadership for the past few months, and they just landed another well-known leader from the startup world.

The company confirmed to GeekWire on Tuesday that longtime tech leader and 9Mile Labs co-founder Sanjay Puri has joined Avalara as its VP of Product Marketing. He will report to Avalara CMO and former Microsoft exec Jeremy Korst, who joined the company in January.

“Avalara is one of the most exciting and fastest growing B2B technology companies in Seattle. They are a leader in tax compliance software for businesses of all sizes,” Puri told GeekWire in an email. “I was exploring my next opportunity to contribute with my entrepreneurial and B2B marketing skills, and Avalara was looking to beef up their team to take them to the next level. As we started talking, I realized that the alignment couldn’t have been better.”

Puri and fellow 9Mile co-founders Kevin Croy and Sandy Sharma announced in November that they would be closing the lab’s signature B2B startup accelerator to focus on making early-stage investments in B2B startups taking part in other accelerators around the country.

“One of the key reasons we decided to discontinue the accelerator was that it allowed us to scale while placing far fewer demands on our time, resources and funds,” Puri said. “While I will continue to support Kevin Croy as he continues to maintain an active role at 9Mile Labs, the new business model of investing in early stage startups does not require my full-time involvement any more.”

In his role at Avalara, Puri will oversee all of the company’s product marketing operations, including “product portfolio strategy, audience segmentation, positioning and messaging, customer personas and competitive strategy,” he said.

Before co-founding 9Mile in 2012, Puri held marketing leadership positions at companies including Oracle, Microsoft and Bellevue, Wash.,-based healthcare technology startup Edifecs.

Jean Paoli. (Microsoft Photo)

Jean Paoli, a co-creator of the XML markup language and the former president of Microsoft Open Technologies, has left the Redmond tech giant to launch an as-yet-unnamed startup in the Pacific Northwest.

“For me, it is time for creating a 7th startup, in semi-structured data, my preferred area, blurring the lines between documents and data, schemas and machine learning and my deep believe in openness and interoperability that raises all boats,” he wrote in an announcement on LinkedIn this week. “I have been thinking about creating this startup since a few years now and today is absolutely the best time to create a technology business in the Pacific Northwest, with the amount of talent, resources and tech that are reaching now a tipping point here.”

Paoli, a past GeekWire Geek of the Week, spent more than 20 years at Microsoft, most recently as general manager of the IoT Windows Developer platform. Prior to that role, he ran Microsoft Open Technologies, a wholly owned open source and open standards subsidiary of Microsoft.

He wrote “Microsoft is an amazing company and I will always cherish the time working under the leadership of Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer and Satya Nadella: I saw the company constantly innovate and deeply change toward the openness that we all love: I will be now cheering to Satya’s and to all of your successes.”

Brian McAndrews
Brian McAndrews. (Amplero Photo)

Amplero, a well-funded Seattle startup developing an artificial intelligence-fueled marketing platform, announce the addition of two big names to its board of directors Tuesday: Former Pandora and aQuantive CEO Brian McAndrews and former Salesforce Marketing Cloud CEO Scott McCorkle.

In addition to leading Pandora and aQuantive, McAndrews has held leadership positions at Microsoft and Disney, was an investor with the Madrona Venture Group and now sits on the boards of companies including The New York Times, GrubHub and Seattle’s PicMonkey and Placed.

“In the marketing space, artificial intelligence is not just a ‘nice-to-have,’ but a true business imperative. Today’s consumer enterprises have more data available than ever before. While that creates tremendous opportunity, it also adds incredible complexity as targeting and segmentation grows quickly beyond human scale,” McAndrews said in a press release. “Amplero has a unique approach, centering AI at the core of their platform to assist marketers to solve this problem. I welcome the opportunity to be a part of this journey with the Amplero team.”

Scott McCorkle. (Amplero Photo)

McCorkle served as the CEO of marketing tech company ExactTarget for eight years, overseeing its $2.5 billion acquisition by Salesforce, where it became Salesforce Cloud Marketing. He served as Salesforce Cloud Marketing CEO for three years and now acts as an investor and advisor to startups.

“At Amplero, the algorithms – not the size of the science team – scale to meet the complex and vast needs of today’s modern marketer, which enables the AI to focus on optimizing broad, revenue-generating KPI’s such as customer retention and lifetime value. This truly differentiates them from the others who tout AI,” McCorkle said in the release. “I look forward to lending my marketing technology expertise and a fresh perspective to help Amplero in their quest to create a true artificial intelligence marketing industry.”