The Next Tech Titan — brought to you by Wave Business Solutions — will reward the company that’s moving from the tough trenches of startup land to the big leagues.
We kicked off voting for the GeekWire Awards yesterday, and we’ll continue tabulating the votes in the 14 categories over the next two weeks as we release a category each day. The winners will be revealed at the big GeekWire Awards bash on May 9th at the Experience Music Project in Seattle.
Last year’s winner in the Next Tech Titan category, Tableau Software, set a high bar. It filed for an initial public offering last month. Could any of these companies follow suit?
Apptio: Apptio CEO Sunny Gupta has not been shy about his desires to build the next great enterprise software company in the Pacific Northwest. And the Bellevue company, which helps CIOs at large corporations better manage and analyze IT spending, was well on its ways last year. Apptio raised $50 million in venture funding from the likes of T. Rowe Price, Madrona Venture Group, Greylock and others last year at a huge $600 million valuation.
INRIX: The Kirkland provider of real-time traffic information and Microsoft Research spinout is reportedly on the road to IPO, bolstering its board with appointments like former Microsoft CFO John Connors and adding key executives like CFO Saul Gates. INRIX raised a $37 million venture round from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and purchased its biggest European rival in 2011. Its technologies for analyzing traffic data are now used by more than 200 companies, including Ford, TeleNav, Microsoft, Google and others.
SEOmoz: Led by the charismatic Rand Fishkin, SEOmoz went on a serious acquisition spree in the past 12 months, gobbling up three startups with roots in Portland. That followed an $18 million venture round last May, money that Fishkin called “validation” of the Seattle company’s search engine optimization and social media analysis software. Growing fast, SEOmoz has about doubled staff in the past year. And Fishkin wants to make some of those staffers rich, noting in a blog post last fall that “there’s a strong desire to build a big, public company in Seattle.”
Urban Airship: Urban Airship is flying high, kind of like the iconic dirigible in its logo. The Portland upstart, which helps companies such as ESPN, Groupon, Waze and others with push messaging on mobile devices, raised a $25 million funding round from August Capital, Foundry Group, Intel Capital, True Ventures, Founder’s Co-op and others in February. That followed the company’s acquisition of Silicon Valley-based Tello in December. Led by entrepreneur Scott Kveton, Urban Airship now employs more than 100 people and boasts over 25,000 customers.
Zulily: While daily deal sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial have faltered, Zulily has continued to grow its e-commerce business with a laser focus on providing unique products to busy moms. With more than 600 employees, Zulily raised $85 million at a $1 billion valuation last year from Silicon Valley power broker Andreessen Horowitz. At the time of funding, it had more than 10 million members. It’s now eyeing an expansion in Seattle, looking to take over a large chunk of the RealNetworks building on Elliott Avenue. Founded by former Blue Nile execs Mark Vadon and Darrell Cavens, the office move would mark its fifth in four years.
The awards — originally started by Seattle entrepreneur Marcelo Calbucci — are in their 5th year now. Past winners have included Tableau Software, PopCap Games, angel investor Andy Sack, Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh, Zillow Chairman Rich Barton and many others.
Thanks again to our “Next Tech Titan” category sponsor: Wave Business Solutions.