Tamara is a Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services (AWS). Prior to architecting cloud solutions for large and small-scale companies, Tamara took various roles in tech. At Waycare, an AI smart city startup, she worked with government agencies across the United States to increase roadway safety and decrease congestion.
During her time at Yahoo she led a global IT team improving customer satisfaction and enhancing IT support for Yahoo employees. She later transitioned to the Infrastructure and Edge team as a Production/System Engineer. During this time, she helped Yahoo properties such as Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Vespa (big data serving engine), to name a few, serve their content in an optimal, fast and reliable way. She was also part of the technical team that helped M&A companies such as BrightRoll, Tumblr, Flurry and Polyvore integrate into Yahoo’s Domain Name System (DNS).
Passionate for connected devices and IOT (Internet of Things), Tamara participated in various conferences and competitions. During the Los Angeles Intel IOT Roadshow, her team won first place for the smart safety holster; a solution that detects when a gun is unholstered. At the Wearhacks LA hackathon, her team received a special mention for the use of Microsoft Azure as part of an alert wearable prototype. She was also a Grace Hopper Conference submission reviewer for the IOT track committee.
Tamara looks forwards to connecting with other tech enthusiast in the areas. You can contact her via LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/tamara-gagliardi-61953b85
Meet Shiva Mirzadeh, a PhD in Computer Science and currently the Director of Engineering at Symantec (tallest building right off the 90 freeway).
She manages a team of 60 Engineers and architects, responsible of Norton online platform, that provides a set of services to sale, manage and distribute Norton Products. Prior to Symantec, Shiva was an Executive Director at YP (where she met Eric Thomasian, co-founder of Playa Tech).
She managed $65M revenue through supervision of multiple cross-functional teams and helped drive innovation through YP Hackathons.
She also spent 15 years at CA technologies, one of the largest independent software corporations in the world. (Nov 2018 Broadcom Inc. completed acquisition of CA technologies). There she received CA Above & Beyond Award for exceptional collaboration and partnership building. Shiva comes to from France, where she obtained her multiple computer science degree from University of Paris VIII.
If you’re interested in learning more about Shiva and opportunities at Symantec, feel free to give her a shout at https://www.linkedin.com/in/shivamirzadeh/
Evren is a user experience (UX) designer with a mixed background in art, design, and research. She specializes in helping businesses ideate, strategize, and design their products. Evren moved to Los Angeles three years ago where she founded MakersWheel which is a UX design firm practicing the Experience-Centered Design approach for digital and hardware products. She is currently the owner and CEO of MakersWheel.
Prior to MakersWheel, Evren has designed and consulted on user experiences for mobile/web, consumer electronics, and SaaS products. She has led projects for large to medium-scale companies, agencies, and startups including T-Mobile’s call center platform and pre-paid account services on my T-Mobile.com as well as HYFN8 which received a Digiday Award for being the best publishing platform.
Evren earned a Masters in Interdisciplinary Visual Arts at the University of Washington where she produced large-scale art installations. Her main focus was to create artwork that people can connect with and experience the intentions behind. She spent a large time researching and observing how people interacted with her work. This later paved the way into the world of user experience and guided her passion for making experiences at the University of Washington’s Human-Centered Design and Engineering graduate program.
Today, she uses contextual research methods and applies ethnographic and anthropological thinking in her designs. You will often see her at WeWork Millennium, but when she isn’t there, she is most likely sailing or working on never-ending boat projects.
If you want to learn more about Evren and her expertise, you can give her a shout at email@example.com, https://www.linkedin.com/in/evrenholland/ or https://www.linkedin.com/company/makerswheel/.
Alec is a creative technologist and company builder. After studying biomedical engineering at Northwestern, he spent three years working on powerful algorithmic trading software in Chicago.
A life-long drummer and music fan, he spent the next three years as a data engineer at a friend's startup, Next Big Sound, which ingested and analyzed 300 million data points per day to help the music industry find new artists and understand their currents artist roster better. Alec helped the company grow in NYC from 8 to 20+ people, hiring and managing a team of data scientists, and Next Big Sound sold to Pandora successfully in 2015.
Alec co-founded his current startup Wellth with his business partner Matt Loper to help healthcare patients take better care of themselves, on behalf of their health insurer and doctors. Alec serves as CTO in Wellth's Playa Vista WeWork office, building out the technology and team to deliver an innovative VC-backed healthcare rewards program that has raised $7mm to date and is always looking for smart people to join. Basically, they pay patients to take better care of themselves!
Alec is excited to be part of the Playa Vista community, and looks forward to meeting more folks in the area. You can reach Alec at firstname.lastname@example.org or https://www.linkedin.com/in/aleczopf/.
Meet Diana Sonis, a product and services designer with an extensive business background, specializing in enterprise-level UX Design, Information Architecture, and Design Thinking.
Currently, Diana is a consultant to companies of all sizes - from startups focused on defining their ideas to established businesses who are re-defining their existing products and services. She helps organizations shape abstract concepts into concrete online and offline customer experiences that respond to the needs and motivations of real people.
In the past 10 years Diana has designed, built, and sold companies. One of them became AirBnB Neighborhoods; another is now a B2B core offering in RealNex. She also gets to swap ideas with incredible people as a board member of SVN International Corp., a commercial real estate franchisor headquartered in Boston, MA and the USVI. Diana is a New Yorker in Los Angeles. And, while she’s lived in Playa Vista almost two years, she still walks fast even though there’s no rush.
When not solving strategic challenges, Diana can be found in pursuit of good coffee everywhere. If you want to talk UX, interesting business opportunities, or just love coffee as much as she does, connect with Diana at: email@example.com or https://www.linkedin.com/in/dianasonis/.
Randall started his career studying Physics and Computer Science at Western Carolina University and interning for NASA at Langley and Ames research centers. From there, he joined a program called HackNY in New York City (the greatest city in the world) and dropped out of school.
While in NYC, he met Eliot Horowitz and joined a small startup called 10gen, which later became MongoDB. After seeing MongoDB grow from 20 people to 600 over four years, Randall joined Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a Technical Evangelist. Going back to his space roots, Randall made it out to Playa Vista while working for SpaceX. After a year or so of launching rockets, he rejoined AWS where he now works with thousands of developers across multiple industries and writes for the AWS blog frequently.
Currently, he's super interested in AI and is spending a lot of time building demos of deep learning and feature engineering. You can see one of the more recent demos on https://twitter.com/whereml - a bot that tries to guess where in the world a picture was taken. Randall advises and invests in startups and travels around the world speaking at various tech conferences. You can connect with Randall at firstname.lastname@example.org or https://www.linkedin.com/in/jrhunt/ .
As Director of Community for one of the fastest growing startup’s, Bethany Joy Clark plays a key role in the world of WeWork here in L.A. --- and what a growing world it is.
WeWork now hosts 287 locations in 23 countries. The focus is on transforming buildings into vibrant environments where companies and people grow together through creativity and connection. She couldn’t be more excited than to help foster this experience for her friends and neighbors right here in Playa Vista, with one WeWork already thriving and a second location opening December 17th on Millennium Drive!
Before WeWork, Bethany was an early employee at TOMS Shoes and helped lead the growth of TOMS Campus Clubs and Community. Her roles progressed from Director of Community to Global Brand Ambassador when she was asked to launch and scale TOMS on the Home Shopping Network.
Quickly learning live TV, Bethany was also the on-air host for the brand, selling TOMS products and sharing inspirational stories. The One for One® company now gives to people in need in 70+ countries, and sells its products all over the world.
Prior to joining TOMS in 2011, she spent seven years at The Walt Disney Company in the Global Sales and Marketing division, heading up the Disneyland Grad Nite program. Originally from Fredericksburg, VA and a large military family, she completed her undergraduate degree at James Madison University. She and her family love living and working in Playa Vista, CA.
If you’re interested in learning more about WeWork or want office space and a dream commute, Bethany can be reached at email@example.com and
Raymond has been residing around the Playa Vista area since 1997. He lived and studied abroad in Shanghai, China for two years after graduating from California State University Northridge. He is currently finishing up on his MBA with an emphasis in marketing through the University of Redlands.
If you’re interested in learning more about Raymond or how to donate and reuse used
electronics, feel free to give Raymond a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org
He also completed his doctorate in engineering from the University of Michigan focusing on solid state physics with research in organic solar cell and organic light emitting diode (OLED) design and then applying knowledge to lighting design for therapeutic effects. His efforts resulted in two patents.
Working with models and simulations built his data science expertise, leading to a position as Director of Research & Operations at the UCLA Institute for Prediction Technology.
Midway through his PhD, Garen developed an enthusiasm for both data science and financial engineering, which never abated – constructing derivative products and also being an early, avid enthusiast of bitcoin. One of the early contributors to the Ethereum blockchain scene in Los Angeles, he met with fellow Michigan alum John Kang to found Reasi, providing much needed updates to the current real estate transaction paradigm.
Imagine being able to transact your next home, including payment, entirely on one platform!
Want to connect with Garen? He can be reached at email@example.com or https://www.linkedin.com/in/garen-vartanian/
Other than managing world-wide projects, Kathleen is also an entrepreneur at heart. In 2010, she founded Socialista LA, advising small businesses seeking to leverage the power and reach of social media to strengthen online reputations. She enjoys building fruitful business relationships and organizing networking events to bring people together.
If you’re interested in learning more about Kathleen or IMAX, feel free to give Kathleen a shout at https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathleen-tahmasian
Meet Michael Sinanian, a UX Researcher at Belkin in Playa Vista. As a UX Researcher, he uses qualitative and quantitative methods to discover insights about the usability and user satisfaction for his products. Some of these methods include usability testing, interviews, focus groups, personas, surveys, data analytics, and more. A recent project involved using analytics to better understand users’ use of voice assistants when interacting with their smart home devices.
Also interesting to note, Michael happens to have a law degree the University of Michigan Law School. He pivoted into tech when he realized that he enjoyed building products more than sitting on the side-lines servicing the companies that made them. He received a dual-degree focusing on Human Computer Interaction and started as a UX Researcher, a role he viewed as high-impact.
He feels that his legal background gives him the analytic framework to ask better questions of his users and his team. Legal research also sharpened his inquisitiveness and encouraged him to dive deeper on any given issue his team is trying to explore.
His advice to people seeking to pivot their careers into tech is to not be afraid of rolling up your sleeves and get hands-on experience, even if just at an introductory level, with design and data projects.
If you’re interested in learning more or are feeling generous with a cup of coffee, feel free to give Michael a shout at https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelsinanian.
John, a cryptocurrency enthusiast, is now working on exploring blockchain technology, trying to make crypto more usable by the general public. He's also currently a community manager for a crypto-based company in Thailand.
If it isn't obvious, John loves tinkering with new technology. Feel free to introduce yourself to him.
Meet your neighbor, Morgan Sacco. She is the founder of Athena.LA, an organization that connects women in tech to LA's leading tech companies. Athena.LA held their launch party at the Santa Monica Preccelerator in December of 2017 and featured Melanie Stricklan, cofounder/CTO of Slingshot Aerospace - a Techstars LA company, as the keynote speaker.
By day, Morgan is a financial analyst at Magento, an e-commerce software company, and runs top-line planning and analysis for the sales organization.
Morgan spent the first three years of her career working in Silicon Valley for Intel and SugarCRM, a venture-backed SAAS company.
Feel free to introduce yourself to Morgan at https://www.linkedin.com/in/morgansacco/.
Since 2014, he has been running his own practice representing startup and mid-size tech companies such as Invoice2go and Headspace. While he runs his practice from the Playa Vista WeWork, these days he has been working in-house at Snap as a contract attorney in the Media & Commercial Legal group.
If you have any commercial or contractual legal needs, Steve can be a good resource. Check him out at www.linkedin.com/in/stevenikkhou.
One of the best UX designers I know, meet Narbeh (goes by Narbs). Currently working out of the Playa Vista WeWork Office at a Stealth startup, Narbs was a co-founder at Blayze (A MuckerLab company) which was later acquired by Vobile. He then was a lead UX designer at Maker Studio (A Disney acquired online video company) and Principal ux designer at Faraday Future before joining his current stealth startup in Playa Vista.
If you're a product designer and currently in the market, he might be a good lead into a well funded startup. Feel free to introduce yourself to him: https://www.linkedin.com/in/narbehd/
As our first featured neighbor, I'm thrilled to introduce Aslan Appleman, a Senior Manager at Amazon.
Aslan is part of the Alexa org and just recently announced the Echo buttons, enabling interactive family trivia games on your Echo device.
According to the Amazon site, these buttons are "part of the line of Alexa Gadgets, a collection of fun and playful products that enhance voice interactions with compatible Echo devices."
Check them out, they're only $20 bucks. Learn more here.
Feel free to introduce yourself to Aslan: