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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.

There are giants among us.

Today’s category in the GeekWire Awards — Next Tech Titan — recognizes a tech company that’s on the cusp of making a very serious dent in the universe. Past winners of this award include tax automation company Avalara; data visualization powerhouse Tableau Software and mobile operating system Cyanogen. Yes, there are some very big shoes to fill here.

Awards 2016Keep reading below for descriptions of this year’s five finalists, and vote in the poll below. This is usually one of our most hotly-contested categories, so make sure to cast your ballot.

For the next two weeks, we’re opening voting in each of 13 GeekWire Awards categories, with GeekWire readers choosing their top picks from finalists selected by our panel of judges from community nominations. Check back on GeekWire each day to cast your ballots, or visit here to see the other categories.

All of the winners will be revealed at the GeekWire Awards — presented by Wave — on May 12 at EMP. Make sure you have your tickets for this event, which sells out every year.

The Next Tech Titan category is presented by Kibble & Prentice.

adaptive12Adaptive Biotechnologies: Under the direction of CEO Chad Robins, Adaptive Biotechnologies is growing fast, inking key alliances and scoring big cash as the Seattle company looks to develop new technologies to sequence T-cell and B-cell receptors in the immune system. Started in 2009 by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Adaptive raised $195 million in venture funding and purchased South San Francisco-based Sequenta Inc. last year. Total funding now stands at over $400 million, with the company getting a big boost when it tapped former Zillow CFO Chad Cohen as its CFO last summer.

K2_2016_PRIMARYlogo_box_HighResK2: No, it is not the ski company. This K2 is revolutionizing how companies seamlessly build applications that give deeper insights into businesses processes, from human resources to IT management to data analysis. Founded in South Africa 15 years ago by Adriaan van Wyk and Olaf Wagner, the software company was bootstrapped for its first few years.

It moved to Bellevue in 2004, and has continued to grow ever since and now employs 505 people. K2 raised $100 million in financing from private equity powerhouse Francisco Partners last year, money it is using to grow market share.


OfferUp: This potential Craigslist-killer emerged on the scene in a big way in 2015 after years of keeping a relatively low profile. A mobile application that allows consumers to buy and sell everything from boats to boots to bicycles, OfferUp announced $90 million in venture funding from Andreessen Horowitz last fall.

The Bellevue company recently started testing a system that gives buyers the option to pay sellers through the OfferUp app without exchanging cash, a potential game changer. Rumored to be the Seattle region’s only “unicorn” startup, valued at more than $1 billion, the Nick Huzar and Arean van Veelen-led company said last month that it expects to process more than $14 billion in transactions this year.

smartsheet-logo-white-BGSmartsheet: Online project management may sound a bit boring, but Smartsheet is making a mark in this lucrative arena while helping big customers like Hilton, ESPN, Netflix and Groupon more efficiently get work done. The Bellevue company led by tech veterans Mark Mader and Brent Frei was recently named Google for Work’s Marketplace App of the Year, and it has continued to bolster its team and new clients. It now boasts 85,000 customers in 190 countries, with eight million registered users. The 10-year-old company raised $35 million in venture funding in 2014 from Madrona, Sutter Hill Ventures, Insight Venture Partners and others. Total funding in the 310-person company now stands at $70 million.

TUNE_VisualMark_ColorTune: The 7-year-old mobile marketing upstart — founded by twin brothers Lucas and Lee Brown — bootstrapped itself to early success, turning its first $144,000 gross profit in 2011. But in 2013, the company realized it was sitting on too big of an opportunity, and so it landed $9.4 million from Accel Partners. Tune, formerly known as HasOffers, raised another $27 million in venture funding last year.

Things continue to grow. In 2014, the company topped $40 million in revenue, and surpassed 250 employees. It now employs 340 people, with revenues last year reaching $60.4 million. Tune also has made a number of acquisitions as it looks to cement its position in the mobile marketing landscape. Customers such as Starbucks, The New York Times and Uber use Tune’s mobile analytics products to boost their adoption on mobile platforms.

Best of luck to all of the finalists in this year’s Next Tech Titan category.

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