Tech Moves: Facebook engineering lead joins gaming unicorn Playco; Bright.md names new CEO

Calvin Grunewald. (Playco Photo)

— Former Facebook Director of Engineering Calvin Grunewald has left the social media giant after nine years and joined Playco, a Tokyo mobile gaming company, as chief technology officer. 

Based in Seattle, Grunewald previously supported Facebook’s gaming team and helped bring the platform’s Instant Games to reality in 2017. Instant Games provides mobile friendly games that users can play via Facebook’s news feed or Messenger. An avid gamer, Grunewald joined Facebook’s Seattle engineering center about two years after it was established. Previously, he was a software development engineer at Microsoft.

“From my experience building the Instant Games platform at Facebook, I know there’s tremendous opportunity in the space and room to partner with more platforms on building best-in-class games that billions of people can play with their friends,” said Grunewald.

Playco, founded by gaming industry vets from Zynga and Game Closure, launched last September with a $100 million Series A at a more than $1 billion valuation.

The company’s vision, as VentureBeat put it, is to make instant games that can appeal to billions of people, in broadly attractive genres with gameplay that is simple to pick up and play. All it takes is a link to access and play with friends on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snap, TikTok and others.

Playco’s initial two games available on Facebook’s Instant Games are Cat Life and Thug Life.

— Contract management startup Icertis added two new board members; Penny Pritzker, founder and chairman of PSP Partners, former U.S. secretary of commerce and current Microsoft board member; and Karyn Smith, general counsel at Twilio. The Seattle-area startup announced a new $80 million investment round Thursday, pushing its valuation to $2.8 billion. Read the story.

Steve Giannini. (Bright.md Photo)

— Portland, Ore.-based telemedicine startup Bright.md announced Steve Giannini as its new CEO. He is the former president and CEO of marketing and communications calendar Opal, another Portland startup.

Bright.md co-founder and former CEO Ray Costantini will remain with the company and on the board.

Bright.md provides an AI-powered virtual healthcare service. The 7-year-old company closed its Series C funding last year and launched a new COVID-19 evaluation tool in response to the pandemic. The company currently has 68 employees, the majority based in the Portland area.

— Dreambox Learning CEO and longtime education technology leader Jessie Woolley-Wilson has joined the board of online learning platform Quizlet. Headquarted in San Francisco, Quizlet is know for its online flashcards, games and tests.

“The Quizlet team shares my fundamental belief that unlocking human potential starts with unlocking learning potential,” said Woolley-Wilson.

Rosalyn Curato, left, and Preethi Pragash. (Lockstep Photos)

— Accounting software startup Lockstep hired Rosalyn Curato as EVP of customer success and Preethi Pragash as VP of finance.

Headquartered in Seattle, Lockstep raised $10 million in a Series A funding round last month to expand its software and cloud-based platform that connects accounts receivable and accounts payable teams.

Curato was most recently chief customer officer at Allovue, an education management platform, and previously was a vice president at Citigroup. Pragash previously held executive finance roles at Figure Eight, a machine learning and artificial intelligence company acquired by Appen in 2019, and Jigsaw data corporation.

— Nike Global Vice President and GM of Jordan Women’s Andrea Perez has joined the board of public telehealth platform Hims & Hers Health. A direct-to-consumer business, Hims & Hers Health sells hair, skin, sexual wellness, mental health and other wellness products and services.

— Seattle consultancy Logic20/20 hired Tejan Gabisi as director of strategy and operations. Gabisi was most recently a senior manager of digital solutions for IT service provider Enstoa and previously a manager at Deloitte and KPMG.

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