Power Moves: Mike Kocorowski joins fast-growing Whitebox as CFO - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Nov. 14, 2019 3:28 pm

Power Moves: Mike Kocorowski joins fast-growing Whitebox as CFO

Plus, Howard County Innovation Center's new ED helped launch the original Macintosh computer, and hiring and promotion news at the World Trade Center Institute, Kapowza and many more.
Mike Kocorowski joined Whitebox as chief financial officer.

Mike Kocorowski joined Whitebox as chief financial officer.

(Courtesy photo)

Power Moves is a column where we chart the comings and goings of talent across the region. Got a new hire, new gig or promotion? Email us.


Before this week, Mike Kocorowski led financial and accounting teams at Baltimore companies including LEARN Behavioral and Millennial Media. Now, he’s joining Whitebox as chief financial officer, adding growth experience at the local ecommerce company.

Whitebox, which raised a $5 million Series A earlier this year, offers tools for businesses to automate operations, logistics and market goods using ecommerce platforms.

“The opportunity within ecommerce is a huge one,” Kocorowski told Technical.ly. “Looking at this market where there is a changing dynamic of moving away from brick and mortar to ecommerce platforms and the rise of direct to consumer model, it is a huge opportunity for growth and I think Whitebox is the cutting edge.”

Kocorowski brings 25 years experience leading accounting and finance teams. He served as chief accounting officer at mobile advertising darling Millennial Media during its growth from a 20-employee startup to national player from 2010 to 2016. That’s the period where it went public and was acquired by AOL/Verizon.

For three years, he served as CFO at LEARN Behavioral, a national provider network serving children with autism and special needs with 4,000 employees across 23 states. The company made six acquisitions over two years, and sold a majority stake to San Francisco-based Gryphon Investors in 2019.

In those roles, he was answering questions such as: How to scale while building new products and new tools for clients in a new market? How do you enable the business to scale and measure as it grows?

In both roles, he was focused on creating tools to build and measure as the companies scaled. Now he’ll return to a company that is around 50 employees and seeing growth. Recently, Whitebox opened a new 100,000-square-foot fulfillment operation in Memphis, and expanded a center that it opened earlier this year in Las Vegas to 80,000 square feet.

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Kocorowski joins a team at Whitebox that includes other veterans of Baltimore adtech companies. Among them, CEO Marcus Startzel was an executive at Ad.com and Millennial Media and recently hired VP of marketing Hayley Bradway.

“We were going through a very unique time of growth and Mike and I had worked together in the past over multiple years,” Startzel said. “Knowing that a talent like Mike was available and we also need help managing this growth, it seemed like an incredible opportunity.”

Startzel said Kocorowski is a “top-tier A talent” and can help to solve complex problems associated with growth. Kocorowski’s experience analyzing and evaluating product expansion opportunities and where they fit in the wider market will be valuable, Startzel said, as well as weighing short term and long term bets. He will also oversee areas such as human resources and legal.

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Howard County Economic Development Authority named a technologist who helped launch the original Macintosh computer to lead its recently opened space that congregates tech companies, research and entrepreneurship resources in Columbia.

Chuck Bubeck will be executive director of the Howard County Innovation Center. He spent a decade at Apple, working on the pioneering PC and becoming one of the iconic brand’s first regional systems engineering managers. He then founded EaseTech, which was acquired by Thrive Networks last year.

“The newly launched innovation center will provide a wide canopy to nurture, enhance and highlight the wealth of innovation in the county, state, and region,” Bubeck said in a statement. “I look forward to bringing the innovation community together in the country’s most promising location for tech.”

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World Trade Center Institute (WTCI) celebrated 30 years on Wednesday night with a toast at Columbus Center, and it doubled as a moment to mark a change in day-to-day leadership within the Inner Harbor-based organization.

After 19 years leading the organization that fosters global connections among the local business community as CEO, Deborah Kielty is transitioning to executive chair and CEO advisor.

Taking the CEO role will be two current leaders who were promoted from within the ranks of the organization: Susan Aplin and Eddie Resende.

Resende is a 12-year veteran of WTCI, having previously served as chief operating officer.

Aplin was chief innovation officer, having joined WTCI after leading eco-friendly home goods brand Bambeco. She also held management positions at Williams-Sonoma, GAP and Staples.

“We believe it’s a great advantage to have two CEOs with different backgrounds,” said Aplin. “The main ingredient to make this work is that we have a strong relationship, incredible chemistry and mutual respect and trust for one another.

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Baltimore-based creative agency Kapowza named Sean Sutherland as a partner.

Kapowza, which provides marketing support for businesses, said Sutherland, who was director of accounts, will become more involved in the management of the agency and long-term strategy.

“Sean has been a true partner since we originally connected in 2015,” said Dan Schepleng, founder and creative director of Kapowza, in a press release. “This has been a long time coming and I couldn’t be more proud of the work and clients we’ve been able to support while Sean’s been a part of the agency. I just wish he respected me more.”

Sutherland has 10 years of experience in advertising and communications. He joined Kapowza in 2016 when the agency was located in Emerging Technology Centers (ETC), supporting the incubator and coworking space with marketing services and providing marketing tactics to its members.

“I’m honored by the opportunity to continue to grow Kapowza in the Baltimore market and beyond,” Sutherland said. “It’s been a dream to shape the scope and scale of this agency, and I look forward to taking a more active role in the years to come. I might even become more serious, but probably not.”

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Longtime biopharma executive Todd Chappell joined Rasio Therapeutics as CEO. The Baltimore-based company is developing new medicine using computer-aided drug design technology.

Chappell previously led Baltimore-based Perceptive Navigation and Shape Pharmaceuticals. He also served as the first entrepreneur in residence at the National Institutes of Health.

“Todd is a dynamic leader with a strong scientific and entrepreneurial background,” Ken Malone, chair of Rasio’s board, said in a statement. “With Todd’s past experience and success in guiding early-stage drug-development companies, and his deep connections to Maryland’s life sciences community, Rasio is well-positioned to accelerate its service offerings and company growth.”

The company is also partnering with Baltimore-based SilcsBio, which also works in computational drug discovery. The partnership will allow for development of small molecules to treat diseases in ways that were previously in accessible, the companies said. Initially, Rasio is focusing in the area of oncology therapeutics.

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Mindgrub said Lawrence Baird joined the Locust Point-based tech and creatives agency as senior VP of client solutions. Over 20 years, Baird previously worked with Baltimore education and cyber companies, including a 13-year stint with Laureate Education.

With Mindgrub, he will optimize sales team operations and develop strategies to expand the company’s client base.

“We are thrilled to welcome Lawrence to our team,” CEO Todd Marks said in a statement. “His background in the higher education space combined with his management experience will add tremendous value to our team as we continue to grow.”

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Machine learning and artificial intelligence specialist Kumar Mainali joined the tech team of the Chesapeake Conservancy. The Annapolis organization is famous for the falcon cam and other Baltimore birdwatching innovations, but also employs data in its quest to conserve and restore the Chesapeake Bay’s resources.

Minali is a geospatial data scientist, and will look to apply algorithms to solving environmental problems. The goal is to provide data for organizations in the Bay’s watershed, and beyond.

“I am passionate about working on burning issues of conservation and environment,” said Mainali. “These are by far the most rewarding and where AI holds great promise to accelerate our impact.”

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Think|Stack hired its second VP in a month, continuing its drive to build an experienced team of operations and technology professionals: Doug Rusk will join the Baltimore-based company as the vice president of for service delivery.

Think|Stack offers a network of entrepreneurs, engineers, project managers and technicians who serve to assist businesses in improving efficiency. Rusk’s hire comes following recent advances by the company, including becoming an AWS Advanced Partner, Public Sector Solution Reseller and Non-Profit Competency Partner.

“Technology is constantly evolving,” said CEO Chris Sachse in a statement. “Doug has been at the forefront of that evolution throughout his career and will be a valuable member of the team as we continue to live at the forefront of the cloud and cybersecurity industry.”

Rusk brings a wealth of experience in technology leadership and management, previously spending seven months as the VP of information technology at UPC Insurance and doing freelance work as the VP of operations at Rental InfoTech in Florida over the last six years.

He looks to focus on leading the Think|Stack cloud and cybersecurity team with client service delivery while supporting the growth of the firm.

“I’ve always been fascinated by technology and how it can be a catalyst for change” said Rusk. “The opportunity to watch the technology horizon and teach our team and clients is one that I will relish, it already feels like home at Think|Stack.”

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Bricata, a network security startup in Columbia that offers a platform for network threat detection, has made two additions to its executive team.

Andre Ludwig joined as the chief product officer while Jason Moore joined as VP of sales. Bricata CEO John Trauth, in a press release, said that the company is excited about bringing on two professionals with extensive experience in their respective fields.

“We are very pleased to have Andre and Jason join the Bricata team and believe our ability to attract their talent speaks volumes about our company and product,” Trauth said. “Their industry expertise in product innovation and sales leadership will be instrumental as we continue to develop and deliver solutions that empower organizations to solve complex and evolving network security challenges.”

Ludwig brings over 20 years of technical experience and over 10 years of product management experience. He comes from QOMPLX, where he served as the VP of cyber products. He has also held cybersecurity positions at Capital One, where he developed the company’s machine learning capabilities.

Moore also brings years of sales and business development experience in cybersecurity, developing and executing global sales programs, and the like. Most recently, he worked at Mainline Information Systems where he served as general manager for emerging technologies and built a new sales organization to drive revenue. Before joining Mainline, he was VP of global sales for BluVector and has served in sales leadership roles at other technology companies such as Telesoft Technologies and Endace.

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