Tech Moves: Amazon hires former Washington state senator; RealSelf names two editorial leaders; and more

Tara Kraft and Carolyn Hsu. (RealSelf Photos)

Cosmetic treatment review platform RealSelf named two new senior editorial hires. Tara Kraft has joined as editorial director and Carolyn Hsu will be the head of editorial content and programming.

Kraft was formerly the editor in chief of Shape magazine and most recently worked as a freelance digital content producer with clients such as Glamsquad and Travelzoo. Hsu formerly worked as head of digital at NewBeauty and was editorial director of, which is owned by L’Oréal.

RealSelf is headquartered in Seattle, but both Kraft and Hsu are based in New York City. The company is launching a new editorial site.

“Tara and Carolyn are two powerhouses in aesthetics and beauty, and give RealSelf a much-needed presence in New York,” Jani Strand, chief brand and communications officer at RealSelf, said in a statement. “After searching for months, we found two women who embrace the RealSelf notion of modern beauty and share our passion and drive to grow the brand.”

In January, RealSelf cut 14 percent of its staff, or 36 workers, in response to slowing site traffic and revenue. Two months later, CTO Matt Woodward and vice president of product Scott Brooks announced plans to leave the company. RealSelf now has 207 full-time employees, compared with 225 following the January layoffs.

Guy Palumbo. (Washington State Senate Democratic Caucus Photo)

— Amazon is adding to its Washington state political firepower. Democratic Washington state Sen. Guy Palumbo announced he’s retiring to join Amazon as the first-ever director of public policy for Washington state. Earlier in his career, Palumbo worked for the retail giant as a senior manager.

The majority of states and the federal government require lawmakers to undergo a “cooling off” period of a year or more before taking a lobbying role in the private sector. These laws are meant to limit conflicts of interest, but no such law exists in Washington.

Two years ago, in response to Amazon’s decision to pursue its “HQ2” outside of Washington, Palumbo wrote an op-ed that called for a regional effort to retain the company. “Let’s be innovative about working with Amazon to develop a plan for satellite offices across the state,” he wrote.

Democratic State Sen. Reuven Carlyle commended Palumbo’s work in “climate, energy, environment, higher education, health care, [and] transportation” in a Facebook post.

Gary Bruebaker. (WSIB Photo)

Gary Bruebaker will retire from his role as chief investment officer at the Washington State Investment Board, where he led a $128 billion investment program. Bruebaker, who has been with WSIB since 2001, will end his time there on Dec. 20. WSIB is working with executive search firm Heidrick Struggles to find a successor.

“[Bruebaker’s] balance of steadfast discipline, attention to detail, and yet openness to discussing new ideas, are qualities we want to reinvent in our next version of leadership. He has given us the blueprints for a successful investment program, and our staff will continue to build on it,” Theresa Whitmarsh, executive director of WSIB, said in a statement.

Last year, WSIB placed a reported $350 million investment in Sequoia Capital’s $5 billion global growth fund. The organization manages investments for 17 retirement plans for public employees as well as other public funds.

Suresh Kumar. (Walmart Photo)

Walmart named former Google, Microsoft and Amazon exec Suresh Kumar as chief technology officer and chief development officer. Kumar was most recently general manager of Google’s display, video, app ads and analytics. Prior to that, he worked on cloud infrastructure and operations at Microsoft and on retail technology at Amazon.

“Suresh has a unique understanding of the intersection of technology and retail, including supply chain, and has deep experience in advertising, cloud and machine learning. And, he has a track record of working in partnership with business teams to drive results,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement.

Kumar replaces Walmart’s former CTO, Jeremy King, who left for Pinterest in March.

Syndio, a startup that helps companies identify and resolve pay equity gaps for women and minority employees, hired Katie Bardaro as vice president of analytics and advice. Bardaro previously led the data analytics team at PayScale, where she also worked on the company’s compensation model.

Heather Lewis, who works on government affairs for dogsitting platform Rover, joined the board of advisors at Marketplace Risk. Marketplace Risk hosts an annual conference and provides risk management-related information for web and mobile marketplace companies.

— The city of Bellevue, Wash. named Andrew Singelakis as its new transportation department director. Bellevue has plans to become a smart mobility hub with the launch of CommutePool, a network of self-driving electric vehicles.

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