Workplace

How I decided to step down as CEO

How Alto Pharmacy CEO Jamie Karraker decided to let Amazon’s Alicia Boler Davis take the helm.

Alto Pharmcy co-founders Matthew Gamache-Asselin and James Karraker sitting on a couch.

Alto Pharmacy's Jamie Karraker (right), with fellow co-founder Matthew Gamache-Asselin, said letting Amazon's Alicia Boler Davis take charge would maximize the company's chance of changing the pharmacy industry for the better.

Photo: Alto Pharmacy

Click banner image for more How I decided series

Jamie Karraker is the co-founder and CEO of Alto Pharmacy, a prescription delivery company that he and Mattieu Gamache-Asselin launched in 2015. The company’s grown to almost $1 billion annualized revenue, but Karraker said it still only represents 2% of the pharmacy market. The company believes it found just the right person to take Alto to the next level.

Alicia Boler Davis, a member of Amazon’s S-Team who served as SVP of global customer fulfillment, will become Alto’s CEO on Sept. 1. Karraker said letting her take charge of Alto would maximize its chance of changing the pharmacy industry for the better.

Karraker’s story, as told to Protocol, has been edited for clarity and brevity.

I don't think there was one point where we said, “Oh, now we need a new CEO.” We’re constantly talking to senior executives as potential advisers or board members or candidates for any particular role. And we're always looking for people that we think can complement our own skill sets well and have always been open-minded to what that might mean in terms of a role or a title … It was just so obvious that we needed Alicia on the team and needed her at the helm. It was a little less about it being time for a new CEO and more “Alicia is the right person for us.”

Matt and I have always been not particularly attached to any role or title. And we’re relatively humble about sort of what we're good at and what we're not good at. And the opportunity that we have in front of us and the scale of the opportunity is just getting bigger and bigger. We've come a long way since we started back in 2015.

We're not hiring Alicia because there's a huge problem that needs fixing immediately. We're actually making more progress right now than any other point in the company's history. But it's so obvious to us that if we want to keep getting better, and keep staying ahead of the rest of the pack, it's important to look ahead and hire for the next few years versus for right now.

Alicia Boler Davis wearing a blazer. "It was a little less about it being time for a new CEO and more 'Alicia is the right person for us,'" said Alto Pharmacy co-founder James Karraker on naming Alicia Boler Davis CEO.Photo: Alto Pharmacy

Alicia has an insane amount of leadership experience at the highest levels for really challenging operational problems. She most recently led all of fulfillment for Amazon, which is a team of over 800,000 people reporting up to her, which is a quite massive scale. She was responsible for doubling Amazon's fulfillment network capacity during COVID, which is a pretty insane task to undertake at Amazon's current stage.

I think we've always been able to recruit a bit above and out of our league. And a big part of that in my mind is that it's actually very rare to have an opportunity where you can create tremendous business value. This is a $500 billion market, and completely broken. There's a huge opportunity to fix it and to monetize that and create a valuable, lasting, large business and actually really help people live happier, healthier lives. And I think a lot of experienced executives are looking for more than just a job. They're looking for more than just another opportunity to make money … And that's exciting to some people like Alicia.

Matt and I aren’t going anywhere. We're more committed and optimistic than ever and will be 100% full-time with the company. There is no shortage of important problems to work on. For at least the first six months we'll be focused on helping Alicia get ramped up … After that, we will look at where the biggest gaps are and the biggest opportunities are, and we will go find where we can make the biggest impact. That will then lead to the title, the scope definition.

Fintech

Binance CEO wrestles with the 'Chinese company' label

Changpeng "CZ" Zhao, who leads crypto’s largest marketplace, is pushing back on attempts to link Binance to Beijing.

Despite Binance having to abandon its country of origin shortly after its founding, critics have portrayed the exchange as a tool of the Chinese government.

Photo: Akio Kon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In crypto, he is known simply as CZ, head of one of the industry’s most dominant players.

It took only five years for Binance CEO and co-founder Changpeng Zhao to build his company, which launched in 2017, into the world’s biggest crypto exchange, with 90 million customers and roughly $76 billion in daily trading volume, outpacing the U.S. crypto powerhouse Coinbase.

Keep Reading Show less
Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers crypto and fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Google Voice at (925) 307-9342.

Sponsored Content

Great products are built on strong patents

Experts say robust intellectual property protection is essential to ensure the long-term R&D required to innovate and maintain America's technology leadership.

Every great tech product that you rely on each day, from the smartphone in your pocket to your music streaming service and navigational system in the car, shares one important thing: part of its innovative design is protected by intellectual property (IP) laws.

From 5G to artificial intelligence, IP protection offers a powerful incentive for researchers to create ground-breaking products, and governmental leaders say its protection is an essential part of maintaining US technology leadership. To quote Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo: "intellectual property protection is vital for American innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Keep Reading Show less
James Daly
James Daly has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, including understanding various audiences and targeting messaging accordingly. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, particularly in launching new ventures and building passionate audiences. Daly has led teams large and small to multiple awards and quantifiable success through a strategy built on teamwork, passion, fact-checking, intelligence, analytics, and audience growth while meeting budget goals and production deadlines in fast-paced environments. Daly is the Editorial Director of 2030 Media and a contributor at Wired.
Enterprise

How I decided to leave the US and pursue a tech career in Europe

Melissa Di Donato moved to Europe to broaden her technology experience with a different market perspective. She planned to stay two years. Seventeen years later, she remains in London as CEO of Suse.

“It was a hard go for me in the beginning. I was entering inside of a company that had been very traditional in a sense.”

Photo: Suse

Click banner image for more How I decided seriesA native New Yorker, Melissa Di Donato made a life-changing decision back in 2005 when she packed up for Europe to further her career in technology. Then with IBM, she made London her new home base.

Today, Di Donato is CEO of Germany’s Suse, now a 30-year-old, open-source enterprise software company that specializes in Linux operating systems, container management, storage, and edge computing. As the company’s first female leader, she has led Suse through the coronavirus pandemic, a 2021 IPO on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, and the acquisitions of Kubernetes management startup Rancher Labs and container security company NeuVector.

Keep Reading Show less
Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Enterprise

UiPath had a rocky few years. Rob Enslin wants to turn it around.

Protocol caught up with Enslin, named earlier this year as UiPath’s co-CEO, to discuss why he left Google Cloud, the untapped potential of robotic-process automation, and how he plans to lead alongside founder Daniel Dines.

Rob Enslin, UiPath's co-CEO, chats with Protocol about the company's future.

Photo: UiPath

UiPath has had a shaky history.

The company, which helps companies automate business processes, went public in 2021 at a valuation of more than $30 billion, but now the company’s market capitalization is only around $7 billion. To add insult to injury, UiPath laid off 5% of its staff in June and then lowered its full-year guidance for fiscal year 2023 just months later, tanking its stock by 15%.

Keep Reading Show less
Aisha Counts

Aisha Counts (@aishacounts) is a reporter at Protocol covering enterprise software. Formerly, she was a management consultant for EY. She's based in Los Angeles and can be reached at acounts@protocol.com.

Workplace

Figma CPO: We can do more with Adobe

Yuhki Yamashita thinks Figma might tackle video or 3D objects someday.

Figman CPO Yuhki Yamashita told Protocol about Adobe's acquisition of the company.

Photo: Figma

Figma CPO Yuhki Yamashita’s first design gig was at The Harvard Crimson, waiting for writers to file their stories so he could lay them out in Adobe InDesign. Given his interest in computer science, pursuing UX design became the clear move. He worked on Outlook at Microsoft, YouTube at Google, and user experience at Uber, where he was a very early user of Figma. In 2019, he became a VP of product at Figma; this past June, he became CPO.

“Design has been really near and dear to my heart, which is why when this opportunity came along to join Figma and rethink design, it was such an obvious opportunity,” Yamashita said.

Keep Reading Show less
Lizzy Lawrence

Lizzy Lawrence ( @LizzyLaw_) is a reporter at Protocol, covering tools and productivity in the workplace. She's a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where she studied sociology and international studies. She served as editor in chief of The Michigan Daily, her school's independent newspaper. She's based in D.C., and can be reached at llawrence@protocol.com.

Latest Stories
Bulletins