Airbnb hired Fred Reid to be global head of transportation, a role that will focus on building partnerships and services around travel.
Reid joined from Kitty Hawk, where he led efforts to build the Cora autonomous flying taxi. Reid was also Virgin America’s first CEO, president of Delta Airlines and a driving force behind SkyTeam, an airline alliance.
What plans does the home-sharing service have in air travel? It’s not clear, but Airbnb said it definitely isn’t building an airline.
CEO Brian Chesky hinted at the problem Airbnb wants to solve: “There was a time when getting on a plane was a magical trip of its own, but over the years, how you get to where you’re going has become an experience we endure, not enjoy. We believe that needs to change.”
“Airbnb and its incredible global community have revolutionized where you stay and what you can do when you travel,” Reid said in a statement. “Whether in the air or on the ground, there are tremendous opportunities to create products and forge partnerships with other companies that make travel easier and even fun.”
—Jeff MacDuff signed on to be director of engineering at OfferUp, a platform for buying and selling goods online.
MacDuff was most recently VP of engineering at Bluetooth. Prior to that, he co-founded energy monitoring company Buddy and worked on mobile for Inrix, which provides real-time road traffic information.
“OfferUp is a company with a huge vision and a relentless focus on their customers and product,” MacDuff said in a statement. “Getting the chance to build on the company’s architecture, tools, and stacks is one of the top reasons I joined, but I’m most excited about helping the best engineering team in Seattle leverage massive amounts of data to build the business.”
OfferUp sought to raise $150 million last year amid massive competition from Craigslist, eBay, Facebook and other startups like LetGo.
—USAFacts hired Lisa Conquergood to be its director of marketing and communications, a newly creatd role. Conquergood has worked in communications and marketing at startups and Fortune 100 companies alike. She also co-founded PicMonkey, a Seattle-based online photo editing and design service.
USAFacts collects government data and displays it in a usable way for voters, policy wonks and everyone else. Conquergood will be tasked with helping to expand the USAFacts audience. The non-partisan, not-for profit initiative was started by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The podcast and video series Numbers Geek is a collaboration between GeekWire and USAFacts that uses numbers to illuminate some of the biggest issues facing the U.S. and the world.
—Amazon Go’s director of technology for computer vision and AI, Gopi Prashanth, has made the move to Palo Alto-based Landing AI as VP of engineering.
Prashanth worked on the artificial intelligence systems that power Amazon Go’s “Just Walk Out” shopping experience. He also tackled cloud infrastructure efforts at Microsoft Bing.
“Gopi and his teams have not just built successful products, but have also challenged and redefined the world’s view of what is possible. At Landing AI Gopi will work across both of Landing AI’s businesses, AI Solutions and AI Transformation, to oversee our Software Development and Applied Sciences teams, set research and engineering direction, and scale our business,” Landing AI CEO Andrew Ng said in a statement.
—Customized vitamin service Persona Nutrition added Robin West, MD, to its medical advisory board. West is the head physician for the Washington Nationals baseball and Washington Redskins football teams.
“I’m pleased to join a well-regarded and esteemed group of professionals who are transforming nutrition – one personalized pack at a time,” West said in a statement. “I live by the mantra that good nutrition is wise medicine. Take care of your mind and body. It’s the only place that you have to live in.”
Late last year, Persona secured $4.5 million in venture funding and launched a service to help doctors suggest supplements for their patients.
—Small dollar lending startup Possible Finance hired Sanchit Arora to lead data science. Arora co-founded machine learning firm Dextro, which was acquired by TASER maker Axon in 2017.
“Possible Finance’s novel approach of using transaction data has the potential to become the standard for consumer credit risk and eventually replace the existing credit score system,” Arora said in a statement. “I am incredibly excited to be a part of this team and to use machine learning to help middle-class Americans.”
Possible Finance recently reeled in another $4.3 million to grow its platform, which loans small amounts of money under terms that are more favorable than most payday lenders.
—Bill pay service doxo has named author and startup consultant Dr. Geoffrey Moore to its advisory board. Moore is known for “Crossing the Chasm,” a book that offers a game plan for marketing in high-tech industries.
“The bill pay market is long overdue for serious disruption, particularly in the long tail, and I’m excited to work with the team at doxo, who have made the commitment to bring much-needed innovation to the industry and provide independent bill pay built around the consumer,” Moore said in a statement.
Doxo, whose investors include Jeff Bezos’ venture arm Bezos Expeditions, partnered with Coinstar last year to let users pay bills at coin-counting kiosks.