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The GeekWire 200 ranking for May shows DocuSign once again on top. Click on image for full list.

DocuSign made headlines today with news that the electronic signature powerhouse raised $233 million at a whopping $3 billion valuation — cementing its place as one of the most promising privately-held tech companies in the U.S.

With that blockbuster venture capital round, it should not come as a surprise that DocuSign this month once again sits atop the GeekWire 200 — our ranking of the top privately-held companies in the Pacific Northwest. (It has held that position ever since Seattle-based Big Fish left the list in December, following its acquisition by Churchill Downs).

DocuSign always drives discussion and debate when it comes to the GeekWire 200 list. Is it truly a Northwest company? Should it qualify for the GeekWire 200?

Our answers to that are: yes and yes.

GeekWire 200

Founded by entrepreneur Tom Gonser in 2003, DocuSign operated in Seattle during its formative startup years, including taking early-stage capital from Bellevue-based Ignition Partners.

It moved its corporate offices to San Francisco about four years ago after the hiring of Keith Krach as CEO, but it never abandoned Seattle.

As of February, DocuSign employed roughly 500 people in Seattle, compared to 300 in San Francisco. That alone makes it a part of the larger tech ecosystem in the region.

Invariably, whenever we post our GeekWire 200 updates, someone questions DocuSign’s position on the list.

GeekWire's Tricia Duryee, left, interviewing DocuSign founder Tom Gonser at a sales event in Seattle earlier this year.
GeekWire’s Tricia Duryee, right, interviewing DocuSign founder Tom Gonser at a company event in Seattle earlier this year.

Technically, the headquarters is in San Francisco, but given DocuSign’s legacy and ongoing presence in Seattle, we classify them as a Northwest company. Not everyone agrees — including venture capital surveys like MoneyTree or CB Insights which list DocuSign as a San Francisco-based company (meaning that California gets even more of the VC haul when the final numbers are tallied).

Interestingly, the lines are blurring between Seattle and San Francisco — essentially turning into one large West Coast tech corridor. Daily flights routinely shuttle workers and executives between the tech hubs. Money and ideas flow between the two cities, with Zillow co-founder Rich Barton (whose company has a large presence in both San Francisco and Seattle) often referring to the Bay Area as Seattle’s “big brother.”

As an example of this trend, check out our list of more than 50 engineering centers in Seattle created by tech giants like Dropbox, Facebook, Apple and Twitter.

In this day and age, it’s getting harder to discern between Seattle-based and San Francisco-based. The lines are blurring. Companies tend to flock to where they can find the very best technical talent — and Seattle and San Francisco tend to be hotbeds for developers, engineers and coders.

Even the No. 2 company on the GeekWire 200  — Seattle headquartered Redfin — has a growing engineering operation in the Bay Area.

Want to see where others rank? Check out the updated list for May here.

The GeekWire 200 is our resource for identifying and tracking privately held tech companies in the Pacific Northwest. It uses publicly available data — including social media followings, approximate employee counts and inbound web links — to generate a ranking of 200 top companies from our broader list of more than 900 Pacific Northwest tech startups.

It’s not a perfect ranking by any means, but we think it helps provide a better understanding of the startup landscape. It’s also a work in progress, and we are always looking for ways to improve the list.

To make sure your startup is eligible for inclusion in the GeekWire 200, first make sure it’s included in the broader Startup List. If so, there’s no need to submit it separately for the GeekWire 200. If your Pacific Northwest startup isn’t among the companies on that larger list, you can submit it for inclusion here, and our algorithm will crunch the numbers to see if your company makes next month’s GeekWire 200. (Please, no service providers, marketing agencies, etc.)

Apart from providing a quick survey of the startup landscape in the Pacific Northwest, the GeekWire 200 can be a useful tool for research. In addition to sorting between B2B and B2C companies, you can also sort by more than 20 different sub-categories, from gaming to advertising to education.

Special note for job seekers: We’ve added a feature to the GeekWire 200, “We’re Hiring” buttons, supplementing our GeekWork jobs site to help connect candidates with employers. Companies interested in this feature can contact advertising@geekwire.com.

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