(Photo by Kait Privitera for the City of Philadelphia)
Luke Butler is an urbanist at heart.
The 32-year-old British transplant found his way into City Hall after working on Mayor Michael Nutter’s 2008 campaign, and after a high-profile stint as special assistant to the mayor, Butler landed in the Commerce Department, where he became a familiar face on the tech-scene circuit. (His trademark red hair and British accent made him hard to miss.)
He wasn’t drawn to startups because of their sexiness. No, Butler, like any true urbanist, was interested in them because they were changing the city — that’s what he cared about.
Now, as Nutter leaves office, Butler is becoming a full-fledged member of the Philly tech scene. He’s joining Curalate, where he’ll be the Center City visual analytics company’s strategy and operations manager. Curalate CEO Apu Gupta says Butler will work on projects that “involve growing our brand, our presence, our talent, and our customer base.”
Curalate is one of the startups Butler got to know during his nearly three years as the chief of staff to Commerce Director Alan Greenberger. Greenberger and Nutter cut the ribbon on Curalate’s new office two years ago. (Greenberger is also leaving City Hall. Butler tells us Greenberger is mulling his next move but will take some time off, for now.)
Curalate’s Gupta said Butler’s hire points to the fact that the company is once again in a position to hire generalists.
“When we first started,” Gupta wrote in an email, “the founding team acted like generalists — wearing many hats to get the job done. As Curalate grew, we increasingly invested in specialists — people who kill it along specific dimensions. Now that we’ve gotten to our size and scale, we’re finding that it makes sense to bring on a couple of generalists once again.”
Said Gupta: “In short, he’s raw horsepower that will accelerate our growth.”
Curalate employs 111 right now, with 50 in Center City, 49 in New York and 12 in Seattle, said Curalate spokesman Brendan Lowry.
It’s a role Butler had been discussing with Gupta since the fall, Butler told us in a phone interview last week. When we spoke, Butler had just gotten back from England, where he was on a brief holiday, and was now “squatting” in someone else’s office (his words, not ours) — his replacement had already moved in.
“I’m just trying to pack up my office,” he said, adding that it was an “odd feeling” to come to the end of his time in city government.
He starts the new gig in February. In the mean time, he’ll keep trying to fight off his Philly accent.-30-
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