Our Team

We make it our business to know your business or career trajectory. Our perspective comes from leading our own start-ups or being on the ground floor of others, as well as building teams from inside and outside of growth companies in tech and digital. This depth and breadth of industry experience when applied to your business or career translates into valuable insight, guidance and support. Meet our Team:

Jim Jonassen, founder JJA Venture Search

Jim Jonassen


Specialties: CEO, COO, CRO, Partner and Board searches

Interests: Golf, Rugby, Wine, Straight-ahead Jazz, BBQ and Grandkids

Jim has executed on over 700 CxO and VP search assignments, having built out the executive teams at companies that achieved both scale and investor returns, including:

  • Cornerstone OnDemand – Venture-backed (Bessemer, Bay, Meritech) leader of cloud-based talent management software solutions w/ ~25 million users in 191 countries went public in (NASDAQ:CSOD) in early 2011; recruited the CTO, VP HR and VP Sales (SMB)
  • Green Dot – Venture-backed (Sequoia) leader in FinTech went public in 2010 (NYSE:GDOT); recruited the CTO, SVP Sales and SVP Customer Care
  • RealD Inc. (NYSE: RLD) marketed 3D cinema systems and went public in 2010 and in November 2015 ws acquired by private-equity firm Rizvi Traverse Management, LLC for $551 million; recruited the CFO, VP Sales & Marketing and CIO
  • FastPay – Venture-backed (Oak HC/FT) FinTech company is the definitive financial platform for digital media; recruited the Chief Revenue Officer, VP Marketing, VP Products
  • HireRight – Venture-backed on-demand employment screening solutions company went public in 2007 and was acquired by Usis Commerical Services in 2008; recruited the CFO, CTO, VP Sales
  • Velocify – Venture-backed (Volition Capital, Rustic Canyon) cloud-based intelligent sales software designed for high-velocity sales environments; recruited the CFO, VP Products, CTO, VP HR

Jim Founded JJA Venture Search in 2007 the latest of five search firms that he has formed since 1983. Jim is a serial entrepreneur, software CEO and expert in executive search for C-level management teams in early, mid-size and rapidly growing technology companies. He brings a rare blend of experience, having personally led hundreds of successful searches while having also founded and built two successful software companies in his career.

Prior to JJA, Jim founded Riviera Partners, a search and placement firm headquartered in San Francisco. Prior to Riviera, Jim was Sr. Vice President and General Manager of Application and Procurement Services at Opus360 Corporation (acquired by Artemis International). Jim co-founded and was Chairman/CEO of PeopleMover, Inc., a venture backed, Professional Services Automation software company. PeopleMover completed a merger with Opus360 in of 1999 prior to its 2000 IPO. Jim was named 1999 Software Entrepreneur of the Year by the Technology Council of Southern California and named to the Top 25 People in High Technology three times by the Los Angeles Business Journal.

Previously, Jim was Chairman of Micro J Systems, a developer of software solutions for the search and staffing industry he founded in 1986 and where he served as CEO until 1993. Micro J counted nearly 2,000 staffing firms and HR organizations as customers.

Jim has been a builder not only of products, companies, and teams, but also of communities. The latest example of this is ThursdayNights (www.thursdaynights.org), which is developing a CxO and VC network and social media hub across the Southern California while raising over $600,000 for local kids charities. In 1997, Jim co-founded the Digital Coast Roundtable (www.digitalcoast.org) along with then-L.A. mayor Richard Riordan as a technology leadership group promoting Los Angeles as a leading center for Internet and emerging technology companies. In 1992, he launched LAwNMoweR—the Los Angeles New Media Roundtable to promote the emerging industry.

Jim’s community activities extend beyond business networking. He has been an active Big Brother since 1992, and is a longstanding member of the Board of the Santa Monica Boys & Girls Club. Jim holds a BA in Political Science and Spanish from the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana and also attended Spain’s Universitat de Barcelona.

Jason Navarro, partner JJA Venture Search

Jason Navarro

Head of National Sales Practice

Specialties: Engineering/Technology, Data Analytics, Sales, Business Development, Professional Services

Jason is a career Headhunter who brings 20+ year track record of building executive teams for industry leaders Microsoft, Google, DirecTV and EMC;  as well as emerging growth companies such as Broadspring, Elements Healthcare, DanceOn, SkyZone, Vitrue, Tillster, BlackLine, and Kyriba just to name a few.

At JJ&A, Jason has built out high performing Technology, Data Analytics and Sales teams for some of the most high profile companies in LA and Silicon Valley.  They range from CEO and CTO searches for Collide, VP of Analytics for WME, to multiple VP of Sales searches for BrightEdge and Cornerstone OnDemand.

Prior to JJ&A, Jason built his career either running his own search firm or running and building Engineering and Sales staffing departments globally for high profile start-up’s such as CommerceOne and SpotRunner.  At CommerceOne, he helped the company grow from less than 50 people to over 4,000 people and had the best performing IPO and stock appreciation in 1999 and 2000.  At SpotRunner, he came in as employee 80 and helped grow the company to over 500 employees.

Jason is a local boy from Hawaii, who grew up eating spam and rice, and is passionate about his Ohana (that means family for the Ha’ole).  He has also been known to get a little exuberant during Football and Basketball games, especially when his 2 boys are playing.

Jason graduated with a BA in Human Resource Management at Menlo College.

Samuel Merchant, Partner JJA Venture Search

Samuel Merchant


Manager, Technical Staffing Practice

Samuel has completed close to a thousand technical and technical management searches over the past 20 years for emerging growth, middle market and large-cap technology companies such as Yahoo!, YP, Adobe, Dolby, Cisco, Microsoft, ReachLocal, Legalzoom, Tillster, and many others.

At JJA VentureSearch Samuel heads up the firms Technical Staffing Practice working with clients to successfully fill Engineering and Development roles as well as Engineering Management, Product, Program and Project Management and Product Marketing roles, Analyst, etc.

Prior to joining JJA VentureSearch Samuel founded Talent Merchant’s INC a technical contract staffing firm in the Bay Area; was a co-founder of Mult-Cultural Foundation for Technology & Science providing Cisco Academy Training programs to inner-city youth; worked in house as a Technical Staffing Consultant at Yahoo!, Overture, LiveOps, AltaVista, Oracle, 3Com/US Robotics; and was a co-founder of Diverse Employment a staffing firm in Seattle Washington.

Samuel splits his time between his time between Los Angeles and Oakland California with his Pitbull Laka.

Sherry Welton, Executive Assistant JJA Venture Search

Sherry Welton

Executive Assistant

Sherry Welton brings over 25 years of experience in search firm office management to the JJA team. Her daily responsibilities run the gamut – from research and project organization to coordinating travel and meetings for JJA executives and clients and organizing client interviews. Sherry is the ultimate team player with excellent communication and organizational skills that make her an invaluable asset to the firm.

Prior to joining JJ&A, Sherry worked for an International management search firm specializing in the hospitality industry. There she kept an up-to-date inventory of over 75,000 resumes. Sherry’s responsibilities included interviewing, hiring and performance review programs, preparation and compilation of resumes, personnel paperwork, purchasing and payroll.