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Santa Cruz Works names interim Executive Director

(Contributed)

June 4, 2018 — Santa Cruz, CA

(Photo above: Nik Bahram has been named the new interim Executive Director at Santa Cruz Works. Contributed)

New interim Executive Director will help grow Santa Cruz’s unique entrepreneurial ecosystem

Today, Santa Cruz Works announced the appointment of Nik Bahram as its new interim Executive Director. He is tasked to grow Santa Cruz’s unique entrepreneurial ecosystem to new levels which include both tech and the creative arts. Mr. Bahram replaces Heather Putnam.

Mr. Bharam brings to the position over 20 years of experience in the tech industry, including executive leadership roles at NetApp, Virident, NXP, and SurfControl. He holds degrees from Harvard, Babson, and Boston College.

“We’re honored to have Nik’s commitment of leadership and service at this exciting time for Santa Cruz entrepreneurship,” said Keri Waters, incoming President at Santa Cruz Works. “Nik has expertise as a senior leader in both growing startups and larger technology companies, and so he brings key insights on how to connect the resources we have, and is able to provide excellent mentorship to our emerging tech leaders.”

“I’ve been watching with growing hope and optimism,” said Mr. Bahram, “the emerging technology sector in Santa Cruz. My many years of tech give me a keen perspective on the importance of working and living in the community I love. I’d consider it a success if my children are able to live and work here too.”

Giving historical perspective on the Santa Cruz County tech ecosystem, Bob Cagle, Founding President of Santa Cruz Works, remarked “back in 2013, a group of local tech leaders gathered to have a discussion about how best to support what was, at that time, a very nascent sector of growing companies. One of the earliest challenges we had growing my company and others was recruiting enough top technical talent. We knew these people lived in town, but they had to get up early and get in a car to drive over the hill for work, and they didn’t get home until after dark, and so they didn’t know that there were great jobs right here. I had a personal mission to get 1000 cars off of Highway 17 every day.”

Thousands of people commute over Highway 17 every day, from Santa Cruz to Silicon Valley.. A large percentage of those commuters are highly skilled technology workers commuting to Google, Facebook, Apple, Tesla, and other companies.

Santa Cruz based Looker’s success in the intervening years is the most well-known of the recent growth by local tech companies. Looker has added nearly 300 jobs in the region. Amazon moved their Alexa mobile team to downtown Santa Cruz, adding 200 jobs. More than a handful of Santa Cruz startups have raised recent rounds of venture capital — some of extraordinary size and valuation — like Joby Aviation with a recent $100M round led by Toyota Ventures and Intel. Cagle’s own company has more than tripled in size in that time, to over 60 people.

Santa Cruz Works is now setting its sights on the next challenge: making sure this momentum continues, and that the technology sector in the local region becomes a sustainable source of good jobs for creative people trying to do good in the world.

Nik Bahram is hitting the ground running. “We’re continuing to build strong relationships among our existing companies, universities, and the community. We will extend our reach over the hill to bring partnerships and capital here, and provide oxygen for the entire effort. Stay tuned.”

About Santa Cruz Works
Santa Cruz Works is a California 501(c)(6) nonprofit mutual benefit corporation whose mission is to make Santa Cruz County a great place to start, sustain, and grow a science & technology company. Objectives and direction are managed by a board drawn from emerging and established tech companies, local government, academia and the investment community.

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