Sounding Board lands investment from Degreed Co-founder as demand for leadership development accelerates amidst COVID-19

Foster City, CA – April 8, 2020 - Sounding Board, Inc, the premiere scalable global leadership development platform today, announced an investment from prolific thesis-driven investor and entrepreneur David Blake and his The Future of Work Studios (TFOWS).

Blake noted, “Sounding Board has created a new paradigm in the future of work by utilizing technology to scale leadership skills development to every level of the organization, impacting business outcomes with actionable intelligence. These skills are needed more than ever in today’s environment. What we are seeing is that the investment that companies make in bridging the skills gap has a direct impact on revenue. Our investment in Sounding Board is aligned perfectly with TWOFS’ mission of building companies that bridge the skills gap,” added Blake.

The Future of Work Studios was co-founded by David Blake, who also launched Degreed, the leading enterprise life-long learning experience platform. Blake’s career has been driven by the mission to build the modern skills platform, bridging the gap between talent and learning. With today’s rapid digital transformation occurring at all levels of industry, he saw an increasingly pressing need for soft skills development. Sounding Board focuses on coaching as a means of developing people’s skills, rather than merely a wellness check, aligned most closely with The Future of Works’ mission.

Sounding Board lands investment from Degreed Co-founder as demand for leadership development accelerates amidst COVID-19 1

David Blake

Co-founder and Executive Chairman of Degreed

“David’s vision through The Future of Work Studios aligns with the Sounding Board belief that the development of leadership skills is one of the most critical challenges companies face, and that the market for scalable leadership coaching is exploding” emphasized Tao, who launched the company in 2016 with her co-founder and former executive coach, Lori Mazan. “David’s expertise on the relationship between the development of soft skills and positive business outcomes is invaluable to the growth of Sounding Board and how we grow the next generation of leaders with measurable impact and strong ROI.”

According to a recent PWC Annual Global CEO Survey, one of the top threats noted by CEOs was the availability of employees with critical skills. As modern organizations go through disruptive change, there is a dramatically increased need for HR leaders to strategically partner with companies like Sounding Board to develop the leadership bench required to grow their organizations.

Sounding Board clients have seen measurable outcomes that demonstrate how leaders have increased agility and ability to accelerate business outcomes quickly, increased productivity to meet urgent business needs, alignment of employee priorities with corporate goals, and improved ability to attract and retain high performers.

As an example, Pivotal Software, acquired by VMWare earlier this year, used Sounding Board’s scalable platform to coach more than 130 of its employees from mid-level managers to VPs. “Through coaching, and periodic “360°” evaluations from people around the employee, Pivotal saw significant gains in leadership skills amidst a $2.7B acquisition by VMWare, including the ability to better manage teams, as well as more effectively hit hiring and revenue goals through a changing landscape,” noted Eileen Markatos, senior director of people operations at Pivotal.

The investment from The Future of Work Studios will be used to accelerate the company’s sales and marketing efforts, as well as further execute on its product roadmap as a leading platform for developing soft skills in a data-driven, measurable and actionable approach.

About Sounding Board, Inc.

All Leaders Need a Sounding Board! Sounding Board combines best-in-class leadership coaching with enterprise-grade technology and a proprietary, outcome-based Sound CoachingTM methodology to develop new leaders and drive positive business outcomes.

The Company, founded in 2016, is one of less than 3% of sole female-founded companies to raise venture capital from leading investors such as Bloomberg Beta and Precursor Ventures. Among its clients are a range of Fortune 500 and high-growth companies, including Pivotal,, Rakuten, and several that have been named among the country’s Best Places to Work.

For more information, visit

About The Future of Work Studio

The Future of Work Studios (FOWS) is building companies that will bridge the skills gap and empower lifelong learning.

We live in a world where technology is accelerating faster than our ability to adapt, and it’s creating multi-trillion-dollar skills gaps across all industries. The FOWS believes we must develop and empower people using technology to keep pace.

TFOW is co-founded by David Blake and Eric Sharp, who together previously co-founded Degreed, the leading enterprise Learning Experience Platform used by a majority of the world’s largest companies.

Learn more at

Sounding Board lands investment from Degreed Co-founder as demand for leadership development accelerates amidst COVID-19 2

Media Contacts:

Carol Levey
(818) 692-6549
Communications & Public Relations
Sounding Board, Inc.

Jonathan Woahn
The Future of Work


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We Develop The World's Most Impactful Leaders

From leading remote workforces, building productive teams, to improving diversity, equity, and inclusion, Sounding Board has virtual and scalable enterprise solutions that are urgently required to adapt to rapidly changing workplace environments.

Niall MacGearailt

SVP of Finance
Niall MacGearailt leads Sounding Board’s finance division as the SVP of Finance and Operations. Niall earned a solid track record of improving P&L and operational expense management for leading companies such as Whirlpool, Logitech, Avaya and most recently Soraa, where he prepared the business for acquisition by leading hi-tech lighting company, Ecosense. In his role, he is responsible for building and leading the finance & relevant operations functions for the company.

Ron Buell

VP of Engineering
Ron Buell is the VP of Engineering at Sounding Board and an accomplished software professional with extensive experience in leadership, software engineering, project management, and product management. Ron has led the development of highly scalable systems and applications across a variety of technologies for companies including OpenFeint (acquired by GREE), Rdio (acquired by Pandora), Lyris Technologies, and Lotus/IBM Software Group. In his role at Sounding Board, Buell is responsible for all engineering efforts in developing, deploying, and maintaining the enterprise software platform and team for the company.
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Piyush Gupta

Chief Product Officer

Piyush Gupta is Chief Product Officer at Sounding Board and champions the voice of customers and users with deep empathy. Piyush envisions Sounding Board to be the first window of coaching experience for professionals and leaders worldwide. His approach is deeply rooted in proven scientific research, modeling human behaviors, and data-informed insights to deliver mindset shifts and desired business outcomes for organizations at scale. He believes that a world-class UX is key to drive simplicity that will lead to millions of professionals to access coaching for their development.

Piyush co-invented the world’s first ‘landmark intelligent driving directions’ technology that led Google to redesign their routing algorithms for the Asian markets. For the next decade, he led two disruptive FinTech companies to the market leadership positions and delivered two award-winning products that serve more than 70 million users worldwide. His teams filed 20+ patents while he himself authored three patents. He is an active startup investor and advises selected AI-driven startups on business and product strategy. He is the recipient of the World Summit Award, one of the most prestigious international honors for product innovators. In addition, he is a James Swartz fellow, the most prestigious fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University funded by the founder of the iconic venture firm, Accel Partners.

Piyush holds an MS in Software Management from Carnegie Mellon University.

Tommy Perkins


Tommy is at his best helping clients think through complex challenges in order to create a positive impact on their organizations. He thrives when interacting with others whether helping his team succeed or working with clients to build long-term partnerships. He has extensive experience consulting with organizations on driving their employee experience, guiding organizations through change, and working to ensure organizations are moving the needle when it comes to their results.

Most recently, Tommy was a Client Services Leader overseeing some of GP’s most prized accounts on a global level. His responsibilities included overall client growth strategy, retention, and satisfaction. He represented all of GP Strategies’ major business lines including leadership, coaching, and engagement, digital transformation, outsourced services, and technology implementation solutions.

Before GP Strategies, Tommy spent several years with TTEC Digital (formerly rogenSI) where he led the sales team,  eventually becoming the regional Learning & Performance practice leader for North America. While managing the P&L and sales team he also led the largest global relationship for the firm (Deloitte Globally). During his time at TTEC, he focused on delivering blended learning solutions that incorporate technology and hands-on training. Before TTEC Digital, he spent several years dedicated to strength-based leadership disrupting the business landscape regarding performance management and employee engagement with thought leader Marcus Buckingham at The Marcus Buckingham Company / TMBC (now ADP).

Tommy has had the privilege of working with some of the most well-known global brands in professional services, retail, technology, and healthcare including Deloitte, Facebook, Microsoft, Bank of America, Novartis, Gap Inc., lululemon, and Intel. Several projects he led for Deloitte were Global GNPS, New Partner Pivot, NextGen Partner Program Deloitte China, Present to Win, the RPM project on performance management, and Unconscious Bias.

Tommy holds a BS in Health Sciences from Texas A&M University, and an MBA from Universidad del CEMA.

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Lori Mazan

Co-Founder & CCO Sounding Board, Inc.
Lori Mazan is the Co-Founder and Chief Coaching Officer of Sounding Board, the preeminent global leadership development enterprise platform changing the face of leadership development through innovative technology for leaders at all levels of an organization. Lori is a seasoned executive coach who has guided hundreds of corporate executives through 1:1 coaching focused on business outcomes and developing critical leadership skills. Client companies advanced by Lori’s expertise include Fortune titans such as Chevron and Sprint as well as high growth and public companies like Intellikine, and Tapjoy, plus 10XGenomics, which became a public company in 2019 while top executives worked with Lori and the Sounding Board team.
Lori has spent the last 25 years coaching C-Suite executives to leadership excellence. Many of those public and private company CEO’s expressed that they would have liked this caliber of coaching earlier in their careers. Inspired by these experiences, Lori joined with Christine to launch Sounding Board as a feedback-driven, cloud-based leadership coaching platform that could maintain best-in-class leadership coaching while lowering costs to make it affordable and scalable for leaders at every level of their careers.
Before founding Sounding Board, Lori received her Masters’ in Adult Educational Psychology/Counseling from the University of San Francisco and a Bachelors’ in Psychology from the University of Virginia. Lori is an educator and has spent over 10 years as a professor of social psychology and group dynamics while acting as the interim Dean of Students at Holy Names University, She is certified by the industry’s gold standard, the Coaches Training Institute, and is a founding member of the Genentech Preferred Network of Coaches. Sounding Board is one of <3% of sole female founded startups receiving venture funding. In 2019 Sounding Board was selected as 1 of 7 startups (out of 100+ applicants) as part of SAP’s HR tech cohort, a group that represents the rising stars of the next-gen HR ecosystem.

Christine Tao

Co-Founder & CEO Sounding Board, Inc.
Christine Tao is the co-founder & CEO at Sounding Board, a Silicon Valley startup redefining how organizations are developing their leaders. Her extraordinarily rapid career growth to executive management in the media, mobile and tech sectors of Silicon Valley became her inspiration for founding Sounding Board. As she began to manage larger teams and be responsible for growing revenues, it became clear that she needed a “sounding board” to coach her on the development of her leadership skills. That’s where her Sounding Board co-founder, Lori Mazan came on the scene. A seasoned executive coach focused on leadership development, Lori coached Christine on real-world leadership skills that had a direct impact on business outcomes. Based on her positive and impactful experience with leadership development, Christine was driven to make leadership development coaching accessible to people at all levels of the organization.
Christine advises several startups, is a budding angel investor and is also a Tory Burch Foundation Fellow, a foundation dedicated to investing in the success and sustainability of women entrepreneurs.
Prior to co-founding Sounding Board, Christine was a Senior Vice President of Developer Relations at Tapjoy, a venture-backed, leading mobile advertising & publishing network. She led the growth of Tapjoy’s publisher advertising business from 0 to over $100 million in revenues in less than 3 years. Prior to that she led e-commerce partnerships and strategy at YouTube. Christine holds an MBA in Marketing & Operations from Wharton and a BA in Business Administration from UC Berkeley.

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