TASER International has announced the addition of two key leadership roles: Kathy Trontell joins from Tesla as chief information officer and Jason Hartford joins from GoPro as senior director of product management.
“I am thrilled to have Kathy and Jason joining our team,” says Rick Smith, TASER CEO and co-founder. “Both of these leaders are bringing key domain expertise from great companies to help our vision of building out the Axon network.”
Trontell joined TASER from Silicon Valley in December to lead the company’s Information Technology & Services organization, which works to enable TASER’s growth, agility and success with technology. She has held senior leadership roles in diverse disciplines, including IT, finance, sales strategy and operations, manufacturing, and more, at Tesla Motors, Salesforce, Symantec, and NetApp. Trontell holds a combined degree in architecture and mechanical engineering from Princeton University.
“TASER's mission to protect life depends on the impressive collection of talented people they’ve amassed over the years,” said Trontell. “The Axon network is in a position to grow with robust technological bedrock underpinning it. This work truly matters, and I’m delighted to be experiencing the best attributes of Silicon Valley here in the Valley of the Sun.”
Hartford comes most recently from GoPro where he was senior director of product management of cameras. There he led the product teams to successful launches of the flagship HERO4, HERO5 and Session cameras, as well as GoPro's 360/spherical capture rigs. In addition, Hartford led the development of features to enable a smart and connected camera experience with apps and the cloud. He has also had leadership roles in product management, business planning, operations and sales support at Hewlett-Packard and other technology companies. Hartford holds a B.S. degree from Montana State University and an MBA from Arizona State University.
“I've always been passionate about delivering product solutions that make a meaningful difference in people’s lives,” says Hartford. “At TASER, I get to join a talented team where I can continue to push the limits of technology to create devices and applications that truly impact public safety. I couldn’t be more excited to get to work with this amazing team.”
These new hires follow the pivotal 2016 hire of Todd Basche, who now leads the hardware engineering (CEWs and cameras), hardware product management, and test and validation teams. At Apple, Basche was hired to pitch new ideas to Steve Jobs and led all software development for iLife, the integrated suite of software including iTunes, iMovie, and iPhoto.
With the addition of Trontell and Hartford, TASER and Axon's leadership team is well positioned to take Axon to its next phase of growth. These key additions mark a significant milestone in the company's plan to build out the Axon network. TASER's transition from a weapons manufacturer to global leader in software and connected devices started when the company announced Axon and Evidence.com in 2008. In 2010 the company added Hadi Partovi, CEO of Code.org and an early investor in Facebook and Dropbox, to their board to advise their software strategy. In 2014 the company added Bret Taylor, CEO of Quip and former CTO of Facebook to their board to further advise their strategy on connected devices, software, and artificial intelligence.
In addition to adding board members and key leaders, TASER & Axon have also made a number of strategic acquisitions, starting with Familiar, a photo sharing app, in 2013. The CEO of Familiar, Inc., Marcus Womack, now serves as the EVP of Software and Services and is the GM for Axon's Seattle office. Earlier this year the company announced the acquisition of two artificial intelligence companies to form a new group in the company called “Axon AI.”
Recruiting the right talent has been a major strategic focus for the company over the last five years. In that time, the company has employed a number of recruiting tactics, including placing billboards on the highways in between San Francisco and San Jose and offering Tesla Model 3s to critical hires as signing bonuses.
“I've been very pleased with our 'Write Code. Save Lives.' recruiting campaign,” says CEO Rick Smith. “We've been able to attract great talent from the best companies in tech. These latest leadership additions are part of a much larger strategic initiative. We've got some exciting announcements in the days and weeks to come. Stay tuned.”