Tech Moves: Barry Diller won’t be Uber’s next chairman; Accolade adds to its executive board; and more

Media executive and Expedia chairman Barry Diller, left, speaks at CES. (GeekWire photo / John Cook)

Uber’s search for new leadership has been a long and tough one, with rumors, surprise twists and drama that rival prime-time TV shows.

Now another prospective name has been slashed from the list: Media mogul and Expedia Chairman Barry Diller says he won’t be the company’s next independent chairman, according to a report from Recode. Uber’s board of directors is looking to appoint a chairman to bring more stability and outside leadership to the embattled ride-hailing company.

Longtime Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi joined the company as its new CEO in late August. After that announcement, rumors abounded that executives with Expedia connections would be joining Uber. Among them were Diller, former Expedia general counsel Burke Norton and Expedia CFO Mark Okerstrom, who ended up staying at the company to take over the CEO role.

Uber has been rocked by several high-profile scandals this year, including allegations of rampant sexual harassment in the workplace.

Those scandals forced out the company’s longtime CEO Travis Kalanick, high-ranking executives and even a member of the company’s board of directors. Other high-ranking positions like COO and CFO had been vacant for months or years before Kalanick’s departure.

As Khosrowshahi sets out to fill those roles, there’s a good chance he will look beyond Silicon Valley and turn to Seattle-area connections that he knows from his twelve plus years at Expedia.

Thelma Haylock. (Via LinkedIn)

Accolade, a health technology platform led by the co-founders of Concur, announced two new additions: Thelma Haylock will serve as the company’s first VP of operations transformation, and Tina Gilbert joins the company as its new Inclusion and Diversity Leader.

Haylock first joined the company in August, but was only recently brought into a more prominent role. Before joining Accolade, she was in change management and business operations leadership roles at pharmaceutical giant Pfizer for ten years. She previously spent ten years as a senior manager at international business services company Accenture.

In her new role, she will work to innovate on Accolade’s operations and scale services to meet the needs of its growing members base.

“I’ve always been the agent of change in the room among very technically oriented people,” Haylock said in an Accolade blog post. “There’s so much that can be done to harness the power of Accolade’s cutting-edge technology and capabilities as we connect with, and positively impact, our clients.”

Tina Gilbert. (Accolade Photo)

Gilbert joins Accolade from Teva Pharmaceuticals, where she served as the director of inclusion and diversity. She previously spent 15 years as a managing director at Accenture, during the same time frame as Haylock. At Accolade, she will oversee the company’s enhanced inclusion and diversity efforts.

“One of the reasons I took this job is because Accolade’s leadership strongly believes that inclusion and diversity is not just a business imperative for talent engagement and management. It is also a strategy that can help us address disparities in healthcare and disrupt the status quo. I share that belief and find the possibilities incredibly exciting,” Gilbert said in an Accolade blog post.

Both Hemlock and Gilbert are based in Philadelphia. The company splits its headquarters between Seattle and Philadelphia.

Krishan Bhatia. (Photo via LinkedIn)

Wicket Labs, a Seattle company that provides data analytics for media companies, announced the addition of three new advisors: NBC executive Krishan Bhatia, Viacom exec Mike Berkley and Versive CTO Dustin Hillard.

All three have deep experience in the media landscape. Bhatia spent six years as an SVP in strategy at Comcast before joining NBCUniversal in 2011. He has continued to serve as an executive there, and now oversees the media giant’s business operations and strategy along with advertising sales.

Berkley’s career includes stints as the CEO of Portland, Ore.-based video platform SplashCat, directing product management at Comcast and VP of product management at Spotify. He is now the SVP of product management at Viacom.

Hillard, based in Seattle, is the CTO of Versive, formerly known as Context Relavent. He previously held research positions in machine learning at Microsoft, Yahoo, the University of Washington and Harvard.

Dustin Hillard. (Versive Photo)

Wicket Labs — which just raised $2 million in seed financing from Madrona Venture Group, Divergent Ventures and angel investors — is aiming to put data to work for media companies, particularly in the video realm.

“The Wicket Labs mission is to level the playing field for media companies in an arena where data determines the winners,” Wicket Labs CEO Marty Roberts said in a press release. “The Wicket Scorecard is designed to inform decisions and grow an audience’s lifetime value, through more trial-to-customer conversions, longer subscription terms and more frequent visits. We believe a data-driven decision process will be a key determinant in any successful media business.”

Michelle Broderick. (Photo via Michelle Broderick)

— Portland, Ore.,-based online property management service Cozy announced that former Uber and Geocaching exec Michelle Broderick has joined the company’s board of directors.

Broderick was most recently the CMO of financial tech company Simple Finance, a role she recently left. She formerly held marketing leadership positions at companies including Uber, Geocaching and Yelp.

In an email to GeekWire, Broderick said Cozy is “a truly unique company that blends so many aspects of what makes the NW tech scene so unique and a great ‘up and to the right story of growth for an amazing crew of entrepreneurs.”

“I’m determined to bring peace of mind to renters, and those renting out their homes, as the housing market remains so volatile,” she said.

Ruth Sommers. (Blue Nile Photo)

— Online diamond jeweler Blue Nile has added another leader to the company’s top management team: retail vet Ruth Sommers, who joins the company as its chief operating officer.

Sommers was formerly the COO of designer jewelry company David Yurman. She formerly founded and led  NOI Solutions, a consultant that helped specialty retailers with production in Asia. She has also held executive positions at clothing retailers American Eagle and Ann Taylor.

“Ruth is an accomplished retail executive with an excellent record of taking great companies and making them even better through efficient operational excellence. Her expertise will be vital during our next phase of growth,” Blue Nile CEO Jason Goldberger said in a press release.

Sommers is just the latest of a string of big additions at the company. Earlier this month, the company added three new executives, including tech veteran and former Expedia exec David Fleischman who now serves as the company’s chief product officer.