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gw200The Seattle area is known as a hotbed of consumer Internet technologies — from giants such as and Expedia to more recent players such as Zulily and Zillow.

But who are the up-and-coming consumer players? Interestingly, if you take a closer look at the GeekWire 200, our ranking of the top startups in the Pacific Northwest, an interesting pattern emerges.

Is there another Jeff Bezos lurking in Seattle?
Is there another Jeff Bezos lurking in Seattle?

Just two of the top 10 companies on the list are classified as consumer-oriented, and both happen to be in the online real estate and home improvement arena: Redfin (#2 on the list) and Porch (#4).

The other eight fall into the category of business-to-business — mostly enterprise software companies that do some of the heavy-duty tasks to make companies operate more efficiently. Companies such as sales tax automation software maker Avalara (#3); IT software manager Apptio (#6) and business application builder K2 (#7).

What does that say about the Pacific Northwest technology scene?

A few things.

For one, big enterprise software and cloud infrastructure companies naturally emerge here, connected to the roots of companies like Microsoft, F5 Networks or Isilon.

That’s not a bad thing, as these types of businesses can create tremendous value and huge employee numbers. Just look at the rise of Tableau as one example, which now employs more than 1,200 people in the Seattle area.

It also signals where some of the venture dollars are flowing. Interestingly, the two biggest investment areas so far this year in the Pacific Northwest are software and biotechnology, both of which interestingly have pulled in $222 million so far, according to the MoneyTree Report.

Theses business-oriented companies just aren’t quite as sexy as the Ubers, Airbnbs, Pinterests and Snapchats of the world.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great thing that Seattle is cementing its role in the enterprise. But I wonder where the next stars are from the consumer Internet world.

Having these high-profile success stories in Seattle or Portland would do wonders to raise awareness, just as Expedia, T-Mobile, Amazon, Zillow and others have done previously.

It is even more perplexing — given Amazon’s massive growth in the region — that we’ve not seen more consumer-oriented startups emerge here. Personally, I can’t think of one big startup in the Seattle area in the consumer arena whose roots are connected to Amazon. (Please let me know if I am missing anyone!) UPDATE: A reader points to Peach (not on the list) and (#132) as consumer-oriented companies that were started by employees.

The fact that Maveron — one of the top consumer-oriented venture capital firms in the country and an early backer of companies such as eBay,, Groupon and Zulily— is located in Seattle also makes it a bit of a head-scratcher.

Avalara CEO Scott McFarlane is leading one of the region's top enterprise software companies. Photo via Avalara
Avalara CEO Scott McFarlane is leading one of the region’s top enterprise software companies. Photo via Avalara

Looking through Maveron’s portfolio only shows Julep, the Seattle cosmetics upstart and #29 on the GeekWire 200, as a possible contender.

Some other consumer-oriented startups that are moving up the ranks of the GeekWire 200 to keep an eye on: Groundspeak (#37); (#41); The Clymb (#46) and Ritani (#48).

Let me know your thoughts. I am still chewing on this concept, trying to make better sense of where the startup ecosystem is headed in the Northwest.

Meanwhile, if you want to sort the GeekWire 200 by B2B or B2C, you can do that hitting the up or down arrows at the top of the list.

The GeekWire 200 —presented by our partners at EY — is derived from our broader list of more than 900 Pacific Northwest tech startups.

The list is designed to provide a better understanding of the startup landscape in the Northwest.

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.)

Thanks to everyone for checking out this month’s ranking. And, just a reminder, if you value resources like these, be sure to check out our list and map of tech companies with Seattle engineering outposts as well as our list of startup incubators, co-working spaces and accelerators in the region.

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