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Stitch Fix has hired top Salesforce engineering exec Cathy Polinsky as CTO

The startup’s executive team is now three-quarters women. Yes, that’s a rarity.

New Stitch Fix CTO Cathy Polinsky
Stitch Fix
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Stitch Fix, the online retailer and personal styling service, has hired Salesforce engineering SVP Cathy Polinsky as its new chief technology officer. Polinsky is filling a role vacated by the company’s only other CTO, Jeff Barrett, who left Stitch Fix earlier this year.

Polinsky joins five-year-old Stitch Fix from Salesforce, where she has spent the last seven years. She was most recently the head of engineering for the company’s search division. Polinsky previously spent more than four years at Yahoo and also worked as an engineer at Amazon at the start of her career.

Polinsky said she had hoped to graduate to a CTO role after Salesforce, but thought that time wouldn’t come for a couple more years. The opportunity at Stitch Fix sped up the timeline.

She said she was drawn to the technical challenges facing the retailer as it grows, which reminded her of Amazon’s early days. Polinsky also believed in the value of the Stitch Fix service, having been a customer.

“I’ve loved the brand for a long time,” she said in an interview. “I don’t like shopping, I don’t have time to shop, but I do want to look good.”

Polinsky becomes the sixth woman on Stitch Fix’s eight-person executive team, led by founder and CEO Katrina Lake. Yes, that ratio is a rarity for a fast-growing startup in the Bay Area.

Stitch Fix sells hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of clothing a year to customers who use its personal styling service. New customers fill out a style survey and then are mailed a box of five items that a stylist, with the help of an algorithm, has chosen for them. Stitch Fix started out focusing on women, but added a men’s service earlier this year.

Polinksky’s team handles engineering for all customer-facing software, as well as the behind-the-scenes software tools that are used by Stitch Fix stylists and warehouse employees. The company’s algorithm team, which makes the technology that helps stylists personalize their recommendations for individual customers, still reports to Chief Algorithms Officer Eric Colson.

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