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Rory Rawlings, co-founder and chief tax automation officer of Avalara, celebrates on stage after winning the award for Next Tech Titan at the 2014 GeekWire Awards.
Rory Rawlings, co-founder and chief tax automation officer of Avalara, celebrates on stage after winning the award for Next Tech Titan at the 2014 GeekWire Awards.

The Pacific Northwest is already home to a handful of groundbreaking technology companies. Who will establish themselves as the Next Tech Titan?

awards sponsor postThat’s what today’s category in the GeekWire Awards voting is all about. The past two winners of the Next Tech Titan category have moved on to big things — 2014 winner Avalara later scored $100 million in financing from Warburg Pincus as it continues to dominate in the sales tax automation arena while 2013 winner Tableau Software went public and is now valued at $6.7 billion.  Tough shoes to fill, for sure.

But each of the finalist companies in the 2015 Next Tech Titan category accomplished something big in the past year, from mega-financings to huge customer adoption to strategic acquisitions.

If you’re just tuning in, we’re in the midst of picking the winners in 13 categories — ranging from Startup of the Year to Innovation of the Year to Geek of the Year — as part of the annual GeekWire Awards.

Over the next few days, we’re opening voting in each of 13 categories, with GeekWire readers choosing their top picks. All of the winners will be revealed at the GeekWire Awards — presented by Wave Broadband — on May 7 at EMP. Tickets available here.

A big thanks to Kibble & Prentice, the presenting sponsor for this year’s Next Tech Titan category. Vote in the poll below, and keep reading for descriptions of each of our finalists this year.

apptio_logo (2)cropApptio: Under the direction of CEO Sunny Gupta, Apptio is looking to transform how CIOs and other IT professionals spend money on technology. The Bellevue-based software company raised $45 million in 2013, a deal that came just 14 months after a $50 million round, one that was said to be raised at a $600 million valuation.

“Every day we are seeing all of the signals that we are in a very large software category, and it is taking shape right before our eyes,” said Apptio co-founder Kurt Shintaffer in 2013. Apptio is ranked #9 on the GeekWire 200 list of privately-held companies in the Northwest.

chefChef: Seattle startup Chef — which raised $32 million in venture financing from Scale Venture Partners, Citi Ventures, Battery Ventures, DFJ and Ignition in 2013 — is certainly growing fast under the direction of CEO Barry Crist. It plans to double its 200-person workforce this year.

The company, which recently moved into a new headquarters in a former artist colony and lumber warehouse in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood, said that its fourth quarter revenue grew by 192 percent compared to the same period in 2013.

Meanwhile, its average revenue per customer grew by over 200 percent year-over-year, with the bulk of its customers among the top corporations in the world. Chef, ranked #30 on the GeekWire 200 list, just inked a deal with Microsoft Azure, and CEO Crist says that the company’s software is “at the epicenter of this disruptive and very productive period for companies around the world.” It also purchased Tower 3 last summer, giving Chef new analytics capabilities.

cyanogen-logoCyanogen: Fresh off an $80 million financing round from last month — which included participation from Twitter Ventures, Qualcomm and others — Cyanogen continues to ramp up development of its customizable and secure Android operating system. The company was founded in 2013 by Seattle software developer Steve Kondik, who actually started kicking around the idea as an open source project known as CyanogenMod in 2009. Ranked #19 on the GeekWire 200, Cyanogen employs 80 people across offices in Seattle and Palo Alto, Calif.

Total funding now stands at $110 million, with Cyanogen late last month inking a key partnership with Microsoft. That deal, along with with Cyanogen’s recent alliances with handset makers, could pose a serious challenge to Google’s mobile efforts. Kondik, who previously worked for Samsung in Bellevue, recently told GeekWire that Cyanogen is trying to create an “Open Android” approach.

“It’s not necessarily about us trying to get rid of Google,” he said. “It’s more about us realizing that there are far more players.”

porch-logo-standardPorch: Home improvement startup Porch raised $65 million in venture funding earlier this year, including cash from Valor Equity Partners, Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund and TV personality Ty Pennington. That brought total funding in Porch to more than $100 million — just 16 months after the Seattle company publicly launched.

The upstart just inked a lease for space in the former Zulily building in Sodo, with room to expand beyond its 350-person staff.

In an interview with GeekWire at the time of the company’s last financing round, Porch CEO Matt Ehrlichman said that the company would continue to hire aggressively. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we were twice the size a year from now,” Ehrlichman said at the time. The company is currently ranked #5 on the GeekWire 200 list of privately-held companies in the Northwest.

redfin-logo-twitterRedfin: Under the guidance of CEO Glenn Kelman, Redfin has embarked on an aggressive national expansion in the past year, fueled in part by a $71 million venture round that closed last December. The 11-year-old Seattle real estate brokerage now operates in more than 50 markets, employing more than 1,000 agents. Redfin also purchased Seattle startup Walk Score last year, given it a wealth of neighborhood data.

Redfin, ranked #2 on the GeekWire 200 list, typically deflects questions about a possible IPO. But it is already a good-sized business, with Kelman noting that it expected revenue in the range of $50 million to $100 million in 2013.


Don’t forget to grab your tickets for the GeekWire Awards. This event usually sells out. And this year, things will be especially geeky as we open up the amazing Star Wars costume exhibit at EMP to all GeekWire Awards guests. What better way to get your geek on than go face-to-face with Chewbacca!

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