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Walmart tabs chief tech officer

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BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Wal­mart in recent weeks announced the hiring of two technology executives, including Suresh Kumar, a former Google vice president who is set to become chief technology officer and chief development officer on July 8. Walmart also said it had hired Scott Eckert to run its investment arm and startup incubator known as Store No. 8.

Kumar brings 25 years of leadership experience from his work at technology companies including Amazon, IBM and Microsoft.

“The technology of today and tomorrow enables us to serve our customers and associates in ways that weren’t previously possible. We want to take full advantage of those opportunities,” Doug McMillon, Walmart’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Suresh has a unique understanding of the intersection of technology and retail, including supply chain, and has deep experience in advertising, cloud and machine learning. And he has a track record of working in partnership with business teams to drive results.”

At Google, Kumar served as vice president and general manager of display, video, app ads and analytics.

He earlier worked at Microsoft as corporate vice president of cloud infrastructure and ­operations.

Kumar spent 15 years at Amazon in various roles, including vice president of technology for retail systems and operations. He also led Amazon’s retail supply chain and inventory management systems.

Kumar worked as a research staff member at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center.

He earned a Ph.D. in engineering from Princeton University and a bachelor’s degree in technology from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

“Walmart is one of the great success stories in how a company evolves over time to serve the changing needs of its customers, and today it is in the midst of a very exciting digital transformation,” Kumar said in a statement. “With more than 11,000 stores, a high-growth e-commerce business and more than 2 million associates worldwide, the potential for technology to help people at scale is unparalleled, and I am excited to be part of this.”

Kumar will report to McMillon and will work primarily out of Walmart’s offices in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Eckert will work to expand Walmart’s e-commerce business in partnership with retail startups, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, said Marc Lore, CEO of Walmart U.S. e-commerce.

Eckert will be based in Hoboken, N.J., and will report to Lore.

He takes over for Lori Flees, who ran Store No. 8 in addition to being senior vice president of health and wellness for Sam’s Club. Flees will continue her role at Sam’s Club.

Eckert spent five months earlier this year as executive in residence at Bain Capital Ventures. Previously, he spent more than eight years as president and CEO at Boston-based Rethink Robotics. He also cofounded Motion Computing and worked as a general manager for Dell’s worldwide e-commerce business unit.

Eckert earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor’s degree in quantitative economics from Stanford ­University.

Walmart continues to invest aggressively in digital commerce. It has made a string of acquisitions of e-commerce companies, including Jet.com, Art.com, lingerie brand Bare Necessities and plus-size retailer Eloquii, and it has been moving swiftly to bolster its online grocery business.


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