Top leaders depart police body camera-maker Axon, hint at plans to launch new startup – GeekWire

Top leaders depart police body camera-maker Axon, hint at plans to launch new startup – GeekWire

Top leaders depart police body camera-maker Axon, hint at plans to launch new startup – GeekWire

Axon General Manager Marcus Womack at the 2016 GeekWire Awards.

Four years after Axon acquired their startup, the founders of Familiar are ready for their next adventure.

Marcus Womack, Josh Hepfer, Mike Bohlander and Ray Fortna are leaving police body camera maker Axon, GeekWire has learned.

Hepfer, who was a creative director at Axon, confirmed the departures but wouldn’t say what’s next for the group, or whether they plan to work together on a new startup. Here’s a statement Hepfer shared with GeekWire:

“We are extremely proud of our role in building Axon Seattle into a world-class product and engineering organization. When we sold Familiar over 4 years ago, we were excited for the opportunity to build a software organization in Seattle with a mission that was important to all of us. While at Axon we recruited amazing product leaders and we are excited to see them take the company to the next level.

Meanwhile, the local technology scene has seen incredible growth. Driven by large incumbent companies like Amazon, new companies building large presences like Facebook, Google and Uber, and a new crop of amazing startups. We are eager to jump back into this vibrant Seattle tech scene armed with the incredible experience we gained establishing Axon Seattle. You can look forward to hearing more from all of us. Stay tuned.”

The Familiar founders, who sold their photo app to Axon in 2013, held various leadership roles at the company — Womack was executive vice president of Axon Software & Services; Bohlander was director of engineering; and Fortna was a staff software engineer.

“The Familiar team was instrumental in building the culture of the Seattle office and helping hire dozens of talented engineers, designers and product managers,” Axon said in a statement. “We’re grateful for their contributions to this company and wish them the very best in their new endeavors.”

Before they launched Familiar as a way to turn your computer into a “social picture frame,” Womack, Hepfer, Bohlander, and Fortna were core members of the team at iLike, the Seattle online social music service that sold to MySpace in 2009.

Inside the spaceship-themed office of Axon.

Taser International, which started in 1993, originally launched Axon as a business unit, but in April rebranded the company under the Axon name to reflect its focus on body cameras and the supporting evidence management software. The company employs 900 people, including 130 in Seattle, where Axon has a large office that recently expanded and won “Geekiest Office Space” at the 2016 GeekWire Awards.

“We are changing our name from Taser to Axon to reflect the evolution of our company from a less-lethal weapons manufacturing company to a full solutions provider of cloud and mobile software, connected devices, wearable cameras, and now artificial intelligence,” Axon founder Rick Smith said in April. “Axon is the brand that reflects the network of devices, applications, and people that is transforming public safety. Taser will remain one of our flagship products, but now as a single focused product brand for our suite of smart weapons.”

Axon confirmed that two other executives have recently left the company, including Trevin Chow, vice president of product, and David Luan, a New York-based director of AI.

Axon says it has more than 6,000 police agencies connected to its platform, including 38 major city law enforcement agencies in the U.S. The company posted $90.3 million in sales for the third quarter of 2017, up 26 percent year-over-year, and expects to report record revenue, bookings, and users by the end of this year.

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