Former Amazon VP appointed COO of digital events start-up Hopin

27 Aug 2021

Wei Gao. Image: Hopin

Wei Gao is a 16-year Amazon veteran who once shadowed Jeff Bezos. She will now lead business growth and innovation at Hopin.

Digital events start-up Hopin has hired former Amazon VP Wei Gao as chief operating officer (COO) to lead the platform’s growth and innovation.

Gao, who has worked at Amazon for 16 years, was VP for Amazon Grocery and was previously a ‘shadow’ adviser to former CEO Jeff Bezos. She made significant contributions to Amazon’s customer experience and business performance in e-commerce, Kindle and supply chain technologies.

Johnny Boufarhat, CEO of Hopin, announced Gao’s appointment on LinkedIn yesterday (26 August), less than two weeks after Amazon confirmed her departure.

“I’m super excited to announce that we are welcoming Wei Gao to the Hopin team – Wei will be joining Hopin as COO in late September,” Boufarhat said in the post.

“Wei brings incredible technical and operational leadership experience from her time at Amazon. She will help shape the ongoing innovation at Hopin and deliver scalable operations that will allow us to continue building the best shared experiences platform for our customers.”

Hopin said that Gao’s appointment means the company’s executive team is now 50pc female.

During her time at Amazon, Gao was an executive adviser of the Asians at Amazon affinity group and was featured in the US National Diversity Council’s 2019 list of 50 most powerful women in tech.

She has a bachelor’s degree in finance from Nankai University in China and a master’s degree in information science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Events growth

Gao joins Hopin at a time when the digital events platform has seen lightspeed growth since the beginning of the pandemic.

Earlier this month, the start-up raised $450m in Series D funding co-led by Arena Holdings and Altimeter Capital, only months after a similarly significant Series C round.

Andreessen Horowitz, DFJ Growth, Salesforce Ventures, Slack Fund, Temasek and Tiger Global were joined by new investors Adams Street Partners, Untitled Investments and XN in the Series D round that valued Hopin at $7.75bn.

Having raised more than $1bn since February 2020, the London-headquartered unicorn has also been snapping up other businesses to accelerate its growth. Its acquisitions include video hosting provider Streamable, video streaming studio StreamYard and video tech company Jamm.

Working with only six employees before the pandemic, Hopin has since expanded its team to more than 800 people across 47 countries. The company said its platform is used by more than 100,000 companies and sees attendance in the millions each month.

Hopin was featured in Fast Company’s list of best workplaces for innovators in 2021.

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic