There were some blockbuster deals in the Seattle tech industry over the past 12 months — so many that it was extremely hard to limit our selections to just five finalists in this year’s GeekWire Awards Deal of the Year category.
But after careful analysis and great input from our judging panel, we’ve got our five finalists, and now it’s your chance to determine the winner. From mammoth acquisitions to high-flying IPOs, we saw a little bit of everything over the past 12 months. We’re expecting this category to be a close competition.
Check out the finalists and cast your vote below.
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.
A big thanks to Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, the presenting sponsor for the 2015 Deal of the Year category.
Vote here, and keep reading for descriptions of each of our five finalists this year.
Churchill Downs buys Big Fish for $885 million: It wasn’t a surprise that Big Fish — the Seattle gaming distribution powerhouse — sold after 12 years. But the acquirer certainly was, ugh, let’s say a dark horse. Churchill Downs, the publicly-traded operator of Kentucky Derby, gobbled up Big Fish in a monumental deal late last year in deal valued at $885 million.
“Churchill Downs is a company with a commitment to interactive entertainment and a track record of growth and performance,” said Big Fish co-founder and CEO Paul Thelen at the time of the deal. “We believe Big Fish is now positioned to become an even greater force in the casual, mid-core and social casino mobile and online games industry.”
Juno Therapeutics raises $280 million in IPO: Shares of Juno Therapeutics — a cancer research company backed by Arch Venture Partners, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos and others — soared on the first day of trading last December. And things have continued to go well on Wall Street for the young company, which now boasts a stock price of more than $55 per share and a market value of $5.2 billion.
It has been quite a ride for Juno, which is using human T cells as therapeutic entities in the treatment of cancer. The company was formed less than two years ago, a spin out of spin out of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Seattle Children’s Research Institute.
King Digital buys Z2: Candy Crush meets Battle Nations. In one of the more intriguing matchups of the past year, King Digital — maker of the blockbuster game Candy Crush — announced plans to acquire Seattle-based mobile gaming upstart Z2 — maker of Battle Nations — for up to $150 million in cash. The deal — announced in February 2015 — includes $45 million in upfront cash and as much as $105 million more if certain milestones are met.
“King is predominantly known for their immensely popular puzzle games,” said Z2 CEO Lou Fasulo at the time of the deal. “Z2 has had great success in casual to mid-core builder, strategy and action games — this combination extends their capabilities to new game genres.”
SAP buys Concur for $8.3 billion: Concur co-founder Mike Hilton said that selling to SAP was a “gut-wrenching” decision. After all, deciding to sell a company that you co-founded 22 years ago is a bit “like giving up your baby.” Nonetheless, the matchup just made too much sense, especially given the huge $8.3 billion price tag for the Bellevue-based maker of travel and entertainment expense management software.
That represented a 20 percent premium over Concur’s previous closing stock price.
Concur was already a powerhouse, with 23,000 customers, 4,200 employees and a $700 million annual revenue run rate when SAP came knocking. With SAP’s backing, Concur plans to keep growing. “We have always been focused on making solutions for real customer problems, and with SAP we have a great opportunity to advance that mission,” said Concur CEO Steve Singh in a press release at the time of the deal.
Zillow buys Trulia for $2.5 billion: Longtime rivals Zillow and Trulia put their differences aside and tied the knot in February 2015 — a deal that came after a drawn-out government review. In an interview with GeekWire, Zillow Group CEO Spencer Rascoff noted that it is “patently obvious” that the combined company is not a monopoly.
Even so, Zillow and Trulia — both brands will remain going forward — will be a powerhouse in online real estate with more than 120 million monthly visitors.
“I am excited about how we are positioned relative to the size of the opportunity,” said Zillow Group CEO Spencer Rascoff at the time of the deal’s closing. “There is $13 billion spent in real estate advertising and I think Zillow Group is poised to benefit as that real estate advertising budget moves online.”
After layoffs, which were announced on the day of the acquisition closing, Zillow Group will employ about 2,000 people in Washington state, California, New York and Nebraska.
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!