Top 10: Poaching of tech executives during the pandemic
GameStop has poached two more executives from Amazon, adding Matt Furlong as its new CEO and Mike Recupero as CFO, bringing to five the total number of execs it has poached from the ecommerce giant. These steals come as the video company builds on its plans to become the ‘Amazon of gaming’ with its strategy to convert GameStop to a digital video game marketplace.
Could it be that the startup scene is getting its own back on Amazon, which reportedly poached 30 executives from Microsoft between 2015 and 2017; while Chinese-owned video sharing app TikTok has poached several high-profile executives from Facebook and Google since 2019.
GameStop isn’t the only startup stealing C-suite staff from Amazon. Snapchat parent company Snap Inc. has literally ‘snapped’ up three Amazon execs over the past few years, including its most recent CHRO hire (#2). And grocery delivery startup Instacart has hired four executives from tech giants Facebook, Amazon, Instagram and Uber, including a seasoned dealmaker from Goldman Sachs to be its CFO and most recently a former Facebook exec to be its COO (see #6).
Many of the execs making moves are big tech giant veterans wanting to get in on the fast-growing tech startup action, which is intensifying with its many record investments, valuations and IPOs.
Here, we outline the top 10 tech exec steals, both tech firms and corporates hiring tech expertise, ranked by most recent.
10: Zurich poaches tech talent from Ping An
Back in September 2020, huge insurer Zurich poached one of the top executives from China’s Ping An with the aim of boosting its tech capabilities. Previously the chief executive of Ping An’s technology unit, Ericson Chan was snapped up by the Swiss insurer as their chief information and digital officer.
According to Mario Greco, Zurich’s chief executive, Chan “has created Ping An Technology, which is a brilliant enterprise”, adding that he has “experience in creating the connectivity… with the customers”.
A Chinese national, Chan has an extensive background in technology leadership with four years as CEO of Ping An Technology where he helped to transform Ping An Group’s business model and online ecosystems through digital services including a range of Fintech products and online platforms. He’s also held a number of technology and operations leadership roles at Standard Chartered Bank in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore, including CIO for North Asia.
09: TopHat steals Airbus executive for digital tech drive
In December 2020, startup modular housebuilder TopHat poached top Airbus exec in order to help lead its drive to integrate digital technology into the manufacturing process. TopHat hired Matt Evans, who was Airbus’ VP of digital transformation for five years to be the startup’s new Chief Technology Officer. This follows TopHat’s investment boost of £75m from Goldman Sachs in 2020.
With a doctorate in theoretical physics from MIT and leadership experience at Airbus, Lockheed Martin and Siemens, Evans has been snapped up by TopHat to create a data-led manufacturing model which would harness technology to improve design, production and assembly of new homes.
08: DoorDash nabs executive Shanna Preve from Google
In December 2020, food delivery startup DoorDash hired Shanna Preve, a 16-year veteran of Google as its VP of enterprise sales and business development. The executive steal came just a few days before DoorDash went public. Preve leads business development for Cloud Gaming with a focus on content acquisition and hardware/software distribution.
With Google for a decade, Preve’s roles there including head of business development for Google TV, MD of Google Hardware Business Development and most as global managing director of product partnerships.
07: Former Facebook exec poached by Instacart as CFO
Grocery delivery startup Instacart has hired four executives from tech giants, including from Facebook, Amazon, Instagram and Uber. Most recently, in February 2021, securing the hire of former Facebook VP Asha Sharma as COO. As COO, Sharma oversees the Instacart Marketplace, which includes the Instacart app, and Instacart logistics, growth and marketing, as well as focus on engaging new and current customers in North America.
Sharma joined Instacart from Facebook, where she was VP of Product and Engineering for many of the social media company’s private communications products across Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. Prior to Facebook, Sharma was COO of Porch, and previously also working in marketing and operations at Microsoft.
06: ByteDance snatches Xiaomi exec to be new CFO
In March 2021, the world’s most valuable startup ByteDance, owner of TikTok, snatched 39-year-old finance exec Shou Zi Chew from Chinese electronics firm Xiaomi to become its CFO, marking the first time ByteDance had employed a CFO. Just five weeks into Chew being CFO, he landed top job (CEO) at TikTok too, what is considered to be the biggest job in tech.
Chew’s credentials are pretty impressive. A Singaporean native, Chew has an economics degree from UCL and an MBA from Harvard Business School, and started his working life in investment banking at Goldman Sachs, where he focused on technology, media and telecoms’ investments, before joining private equity firm DST Investment Management as partner. After five years here, he joined Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi as CFO, where he was the youngest C-suite and where he oversaw the company’s Hong Kong IPO in 2018, one of the largest-ever Chinese tech listings.
05: Startup Ramp snaps up Stripe’s ex-Goldman Sachs exec
In March 2021, just as Stripe became the most valuable US startup, one of its executives was snapped up by another startup – infant corporate card startup Ramp.
Having served as Stripe’s global head of partnerships since 2019, where he spearheaded tie-ups with banks like Citi and Goldman Sachs, Colin Kennedy moved to Ramp in March as business chief officer, helping the company in its quest to disrupt the business expense reporting software market. In this role, his focus will be on the tech behind credit cards and expense reporting, a role similar to what he did at American Express for almost a decade.
In a LinkedIn blog, Kennedy explained his reasons for moving to Ramp, explaining how they were a startup “punching far above their weight” becoming the fastest-growing expense management and corporate card solution that he shared a “passion for technology that improves how businesses function and makes employees’ lives easier” with the founders Eric Glyman and Karim Atiyeh.
Before joining Stripe, Kennedy was chief commercial and operating officer at another startup, Clarity Money, a personal finance management app and following its acquisition by Goldman Sachs to boost its upstart consumer bank Marcus, Kennedy became the chief revenue and operating officer.
04: Robinhood poaches Google VP Aparna Chennapragada
An MIT graduate, who began her career as a software engineer intern at Oracle, Chennapragada spent her first nine years with Akamai Technologies as an architect, before moving to Google where she spent nearly 13 years, serving in a number of roles including as technical assistant to the CEO and most recently as VP for Consumer Shopping across Google. She also spent three years as a board member of Fortune 500 company Capital One and for seven years was an angel investor and advisor to tech startups.
A product, design and engineering executive with two decades of experience and success in tech, Chennapragada has run product and business areas at scale and started brand-new product areas from scratch.
03: Ferrari poaches chipmaker tech exec from STMicroelectronics
In April 20201, electronics pioneer Benedetto Vigna, who’s been at semiconductor firm STMicroelectronics for 26 years, most recently as a chipmaker tech exec, has been snapped up by Ferrari as its new CEO, in plans to push its electric transition amid the current global chip shortages.
Starting at STMicroelectronics in 1995, Vigna helped the company become one of the leaders in motion sensors and was part of the team that around 2010 invented three-axis gyroscopes that change the screen ratio on a phone when it is rotated, according to the Financial Times.
02: Snap ‘snaps up’ longtime Amazon executive Darcie Henry
Having previously poached two executives from Amazon, in May 2021 Snap Inc. (Snapchat) ‘snapped’ up veteran Amazon executive Darcie Henry to be the firm’s Chief Human Resources Officer. Here, she will lead Snap’s talent acquisition and management programs, as well as the company’s initiatives around diversity, equity and inclusion.
A Cornell graduate and with Amazon since its early days (1998), when it was just four years old and has been instrumental in helping shape the tech giant’s HR infrastructure, growing its then 2,100 employees to 1.3 million people today. At Amazon, she most recently served as the VP of HR, Global Consumer and Operations and has vast experience in “leading large, rapidly growing teams around the world and will be a tremendous asset to Snap”, says CEO Evan Spiegel.
01: GameStop poaches former Amazon exec Matt Furlong as CEO
Video game retailer GameStop has poached not one, but two Amazon executives, hiring Matt Furlong as its new CEO and Mike Recupero as CFO. Having worked for Amazon for nearly a decade, most recently leading the growth of the firm’s Australia business, Furlong is being brought on board to help GameStop as it shifts from being a mainly brick-and-mortar retailer to an online player.
Prior to his role as Amazon’s Country Leader Australia, Furlong was served as a technical advisor to the head of Amazon’s America consumer business and also worked for Procter & Gamble.
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