Exclusive: Groupon Hires Amazonian as VP of Engineering, Opens Seattle Office

Vinayak Hegde is the latest Amazon executive to join Groupon as its new VP of Engineering.

The Chicago-based daily deals company expects to announce his appointment later this afternoon. Hegde will be based in Seattle, overseeing the company’s marketing technology expansion, and will also be in charge of opening a new 20-person office here.

At Amazon, Hegde spent six years managing payments, and another six years heading up several business units, including social networking, email and browser teams. He also ran Amazon’s “Traffic Systems” group, which works on driving traffic to Amazon from both paid and free channels.

Groupon has a number of former Amazon executives on its team, including CFO Jason Child, SVP of Product Jeff Holden (who joined through the acquisition of his start-up, Pelago); and more recently, Kal Raman, who joined as SVP of Americas.

The Seattle office, which will be based in the city’s International District, just south of downtown, expects to have about 20 employees by the end of the year. The office will be charged with automating the company’s marketing efforts, which will make it cheaper to acquire higher-quality customers.

The Seattle office will work closely with the Palo Alto technology teams, where there’s already several hundred employees. As VP of engineering, Hegde will be in charge of both locations.

Groupon is the latest technology company to open an office in Seattle, following Zynga, Facebook, Google, eBay and others.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald