We’ve seen a huge influx of new engineering outposts in the Seattle region in recent years, as companies from Silicon Valley and elsewhere establish branches here to tap into the region’s pool of engineering talent.
That’s part of the inspiration for the GeekWire Awards category of Newcomer of the Year, which is up for public voting starting this morning. However, this year, we’ve also seen some homegrown newcomers — people with existing roots in the community who have established a presence for new organizations. This award recognizes a company, organization — or vehicle! — that has arrived in the community in the past 18 months.
Over 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.
This year’s finalists are health-care company Accolade, Best Buy’s Seattle Technology Development Center, Pioneer Square Labs, Snapchat and, of course, Amazon’s Treasure Truck. Vote below and continue reading for details on each finalist.
Accolade hires Concur co-founders, establishes new Seattle HQ
Philadelphia-based health-care company Accolade picked up two experienced executives last year when it hired Raj Singh and Mike Hilton, two of the founders of Concur, the Bellevue-based travel expense giant.
With the hires, Accolade established a second headquarters in the Seattle region, and quickly moved to build up its presence here — attracted more longtime leaders from Concur and announcing plans to hire 50 employees for its new downtown Seattle office this year.
The 9-year-old company, which employs more than 700 across offices in Philadelphia, Scottsdale, Ariz., and now Seattle, operates what it calls an Accolade Health Assistant. Since taking on Comcast as its first customer in 2009, the company has been helping employees at major corporations navigate health care systems.
Best Buy opens Seattle Technology Development Center
Consumer electronics giant Best Buy first announced its new Seattle engineering office in February, joining a large number of companies that have established outposts in the region to tap into the talent pool. Construction of the 32,000 square-foot space atop the Seattle Times building — a stone’s throw away from Amazon.com’s headquarters — was completed in October.
The dev center is focused on cloud engineering, mobile development and the omni-channel customer experience. The facility complements Best Buy’s engineering staff at its headquarters in Minneapolis where the company employs about 180 e-commerce engineers. In Seattle, the company plans to hire as many as 100 people.
The new office has helped Best Buy accelerate product development on its iPad app, a redesigned Geek Squad app, and a new feature on its main app called “Blue Assist” that gives customers a way to get on-demand expert help from their smartphones.
Pioneer Square Labs aims for startup innovation
Pioneer Square Labs calls itself a “startup studio.” It is not an accelerator, incubator, or venture fund. Rather, it’s a small team of founders, developers, and designers who rapidly test and validate new startup ideas before recruiting an executive team to build out an actual spin-off company.
Geoff Entress, Greg Gottesman, Mike Galgon, and Ben Gilbert are the co-founders of the Seattle-based company, which last fall announced $12.5 million in funding from 13 venture capital firms and more than 50 angel investors.
The original idea for PSL came about after Gottesman helped launch a handful of startups within Madrona Venture Group, the Seattle venture capital firm where he served as managing director for 18 years before moving to a part-time role last year to focus on the new venture.
Amazon Treasure Truck is a ‘four-wheeled joy machine’
One of the quirkiest additions to the Seattle community over the past year was not a company or a person, but a truck.
Amazon’s Treasure Truck launched in February in Seattle, after a seven-month delay. In short, it’s a delivery vehicle for deals, the latest move by Jeff Bezos & Co. to expand beyond their digital roots and into the physical world.
The whimsical truck surprises Amazon customers with deals that can be ordered via smartphone and picked up from the truck at various locations around town.
As with the Amazon Bookstore, Amazon Fresh, Amazon Flex and countless other Amazon inventions, the company’s hometown is serving as the test market for this project. Amazon says the Treasure Truck is like a “neighborhood ice cream truck” — a “four-wheeled joy machine” dishing out deals and bringing e-commerce into the mobile era, literally.
Snapchat establishes secretive Seattle office
Snapchat is known for fleeting messages, so it’s perhaps appropriate that the company established its new Seattle office in a stealthy manner. But the office itself doesn’t show any signs of disappearing.
The high-flying messaging company, which has never made an official announcement or even confirmed its presence here, set up an office this year across from Seattle’s Pike Place Market, in the same building where Facebook got its start in the city more than five years ago. The amount of space could accommodate 50 employees or more, depending on the configuration.
“We are a passionate team working hard to help people share authentic moments with friends,” read one Snapchat job posting for an opening in Seattle. “We have tons of interesting technical challenges, including architecting and deploying infrastructure to handle our scale, designing a slick and secure mobile client, and maintaining an application that sees millions of users and billions of requests per day.”
Vote above and join us May 12 for the GeekWire Awards at EMP in Seattle. Tickets available here or below.