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November 30, 2023

Big Data Career Notes: November 2023 Edition


In this monthly feature, we’ll keep you up-to-date on the latest career developments for individuals in the big data community. Whether it’s a promotion, new company hire, or even an accolade, we’ve got the details. Check in each month for an updated list and you may even come across someone you know, or better yet, yourself!

Sam Altman

After firing him, OpenAI rehired Sam Altman to be its CEO this month. The AI company’s board, led by OpenAI Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever, let Altman go on November 17, citing a lack of candid and consistent communications. CTO Mira Murati was initially appointed as the interim CEO, followed by Emmett Shear, the former CEO of Twitch.

During his four-day hiatus, Altman accepted a job at Microsoft, where he was to lead a new AI lab along with OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman. The majority of OpenAI’s 770 employees threatened to walk out if the board did not bring Altman back, which it eventually did. OpenAI’s unusual governance structure, in which a non-profit organization has control over the profit-making arm, was cited as one of the reasons for the drama. Sutskever and Altman also disagreed over the pace of commercialization of OpenAI’s technology, including the mysterious Project Q-Star.

Adrian Soars

Streaming data analytics provider Hazelcast announced that it has hired Adrian Soars to be its new Chief Technology Officer. Soars has more than 25 years of experience in financial services, where he’s implemented AI, machine learning, and other techniques in support of fraud detection, regulatiry compliance, and data mining. Most recently, Soars was the CTO of AI firm Napier, and he also had roles at TD Securities, Standard Chartered Bank, ADS Securities, and Deutsche Bank.

“Being on the buyer’s side, I’ve always factored simplicity into my purchase decisions, which is why I used Hazelcast for several years before joining the company,” Soars said. “The Hazelcast Platform is seriously impressive software and delivers true real-time capabilities for enterprises. And, when you factor in the platform’s unified architecture, it will make life easier for application development teams by mitigating the headaches all too common with a do-it-yourself approach.”

Kelley Jarret

Business intelligence vendor ThoughtSpot has appointed Kelley Jarrett to be its new SVP of Strategy, Operations, and Enablement. Jarrett has worked in the industry for 20 years, and previously held an executive role at Gainsight. In her new role, Jarrett will be responsible for setting and executing the go-to-market strategy for ThoughtSpot customers across all products, segments, and geographies.

“Joining ThoughtSpot presented a unique opportunity to be part of an industry-leading company with products I believe in, that is passionate about data, and cares about delivering customer value,” Jarrett said. “ThoughtSpot’s strategic vision for this role in bringing operations and enablement together, helps us serve customers in a scalable and efficient way that creates real impact for them, and by extension, value for us. I look forward to building with smart, innovative leaders and contributing to a culture that is open, supportive, and performance-driven.”

Jim Cassens

Perforce Software has appointed enterprise software industry veteran Jim Cassens to be its new CEO starting in 2024. He will replace Mark Ties, who is retiring from day-to-day management of the company but will continue to serve as executive chair of the company’s board. Cassens joins Perforce from security software company Fortra (formerly HelpSystems), where he worked for three decades. Cassens most recently was the president of Fortra, but as EVP of M&A, he helped orchestrate Fortra’s many acquisitions.

“As CEO, I look forward to building upon Perforce’s track record and the foundation Mark has created,” Cassens said. “Perforce’s position today in the DevOps market, the culture and caliber of its team, and the depth of its customer relationships, give me confidence that the Company will continue to execute its long-term growth strategy. I am committed to furthering our mission to our customers while continuing to foster the core values that make Perforce such a great place to work for our global team.”

Cynthia Rapp

Virtualitics announced the appointment of Cynthia “Didi” Rapp to the company’s board of advisors. A renowned former national intelligence executive, Rapp brings deep management acumen to the Pasadena, California-based provider of data exploration and AI solutions, which caters to federal clients. Notably, she managed the content and senior-level review of the President’s Daily Brief (PDB), the Intelligence Community’s premier analytic product.

“I am honored to join the Virtualitics board of advisors at this exciting time in the company’s next phase of growth,” Rapp said. “Having witnessed firsthand the transformative power of artificial intelligence and data exploration, I’m deeply inspired by Virtualitics’ commitment to illuminating complex datasets for the defense and intelligence sectors. With my decades of service and their innovative and explainable approach to AI, we’re poised to shape AI-driven analytics, ensuring actionable insights to safeguard our nation.”

Eric LeBlanc

Scality has hired Eric LeBlanc to be its new vice president of worldwide channel sales and the GM of ARTESCA, the company’s dedicated ransomware offering. Previously responsible for EMEA and Asia-Pacific, LeBlanc extends his responsibility at the provider of object storage software.

“A sleeping giant has awakened,” LeBlanc said. “ARTESCA has supercharged our channel business, giving VARs a quick-turn, repeatable revenue stream with good margins. Our 100% channel-focused strategy now means more customers have access to enterprise-grade cyber resiliency with the most affordable, easy-to-deploy object storage solution on the market today. I’m looking forward to amplifying the success we’ve achieved so more partners and their customers can modernize to improve data protection in the age of ransomware.”

Steve Wilson

Exabeam, a provider of security information and event management (SIEM) tools, has appointed security industry veteran Steve Wilson to be its new Chief Product Officer. As CPO, Wilson will lead product management and product marketing teams in the development and delivery of Exabeam’s New-Scale SIEM product portfolio. He will report to CEO Adam Geller.

Wilson is also a project leader at the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) where he’s leading a reference project called the “Top 10 List for Large Language Model Applications,” and he’s also currently writing “The Developer’s Playbook for Large Language Model Security,” which O’Reilly Media is due to publish next year.

“The intersection between AI, cloud, and enterprise security has always been my passion – and I couldn’t be more excited to join Exabeam,” Wilson said. “I’ve watched the company transform from being the leading security analytics product on the market to offering a full suite of New-Scale SIEM products on its cloud-native security operations platform. The leaps and bounds Exabeam has taken to become a formidable player in SIEM and security operations is inspiring. I’m looking forward to taking its high-performance products to the next level as organizations continue to encounter more sophisticated cybersecurity attacks from adversaries that must be defeated.”

To read last months’ edition of Career Notes, click here.

If you’d like to submit an item for Career Notes, you can send it to us via email at [email protected].