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Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman rings the Nasdaq opening bell with members of the team. (Nasdaq Photo)

Toward the end of last year, a report named seven Pacific Northwest startups — all of them near the top of the GeekWire 200 — that could go public in 2017.

In reality, only one of them did: Redfin.

The report from CB Insights listed Redfin along with Avalara, Rover, PayScale, OfferUp, Avvo, and INRIX as top IPO candidates for 2017. The fact that all the rest remained private was just one of the surprising developments of 2017 on the GeekWire 200, our ranking of the top privately held technology companies in the Pacific Northwest.

Continue reading for a rundown of all the twists and turns of 2017.

Biggest exits of 2017

Redfin’s IPO was one of the biggest things to happen to GeekWire 200 companies in 2017. The tech-powered real estate firm briefly grabbed the top spot from perennial number one DocuSign. With that important milestone out of the way, Redfin executives gave the go-ahead on an IPO and the company began trading publicly in July.

Several other startups moved on from the GeekWire 200 via acquisition. Consumer location analytics startup Placed was acquired by Snapchat parent company Snap in June for $135.1 million. It ranked number 62 at the time of the acquisition.

Simply Measured, a Seattle startup that provides social media marketing insights and the number 31 ranked startup on the list, was acquired by Sprout Social earlier this month.

In October, Virginia telemedicine provider Avizia acquired Carena, a Seattle-based startup that builds the technology behind virtual doctor’s visits. Sightbox, a startup based in Portland, Ore. that offers an annual membership for eye exams and contact lenses, sold to Johnson & Johnson in September.

Smartsheet CEO Mark Mader kicks off the Smartsheet Engage conference in Bellevue, Wash. earlier this year.
(GeekWire Photo / Nat Levy)

Top Dogs of 2017

The lack of IPOs didn’t leave much room at the top, but plenty of startups made big jumps in 2017, while others inched closer to the upper echelon. Work management company Smartsheet will finish 2017 in the fourth spot, jumping from number 12 a year ago. Vacation rental company Vacasa slipped into the top five, moving up one spot this month and jumping ahead of enterprise automation startup Puppet.

DocuSign, which just acquired the key technology and most of the team behind machine learning company Appuri, closes the year out in the #1 spot, just like it did last year. The electronic signature giant is not in a hurry to go public, so it could hold on to that top spot for a long time.

Second ranked Avalara hinted at the possibility of an IPO after raising $96 million last year, but didn’t commit to anything. It is set to move into a new Seattle headquarters building in 2018.

Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ space venture, checked in at number three to end the year. Blue Origin is working on a suborbital spaceship called New Shepard, manufactured in Kent, Wash. The latest version of the spaceship successfully went through its first uncrewed flight test earlier this month in West Texas, and if all goes according to plan, people could start getting on board the next version sometime next year.

Biggest Risers of 2017

Convoy co-founders Dan Lewis, CEO, and Grant Goodale, CTO, inside the company’s Seattle headquarters. (GeekWire Photo / Taylor Soper)

Convoy — 2017 Rank: 45 | 2016 Rank: 94

A $62 million funding round for the fast-growing Seattle on-demand trucking startup helped push Convoy into the top 50 of the GeekWire 200. Convoy provides a network matching trucking companies with shippers looking to move freight. Not only is it well-funded, but its list of backers is a tech all-star team: Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Barry Diller and Marc Benioff among others.

Convoy doubled its workforce in eight months to 120 people as of June. Convoy’s employee count on LinkedIn now sits at 211.

The company, which won Startup of the Year at the 2017 GeekWire Awards, initially worked with smaller shippers doing short routes on the West Coast. But it has expanded its reach and is now inking deals with Fortune 500 companies like Anheuser-Busch and Unilever.

BlackSky satellite constellation
An artist’s conception shows BlackSky’s satellite constellation in low Earth orbit. (Spaceflight Industries Illustration)

Spaceflight Industries — 2017 Rank: 64 | 2016 Rank: Not Ranked

No company rose higher over the last 12 months than Seattle space startup Spaceflight Industries. In November, GeekWire reported that the company is seeking $150 million in new investment as it gets ready for a key rocket launch and a dramatic expansion of its satellite presence.

Spaceflight Industries has two main lines of business. One division, Spaceflight, focuses on launch services and mission management for rideshare payloads. The payloads go up on other companies’ rockets, including SpaceX’s Falcon 9, India’s PSLV and Orbital ATK’s Antares. The other, Black Sky, is building a constellation of Earth-observing satellites and a software platform that would let customers acquire low-cost imagery from orbit in as little as 90 minutes. The first prototype Black Sky satellite was launched a year ago, and 60 satellites are due to go into orbit by 2020.

The company’s backers include Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital, Peter Thiel’s Mithril Capital Management, RRE Venture Capital and Razor’s Edge Ventures.

Donuts — 2017 Rank: 72 | 2016 Rank: 112

Donuts — which does not focus on fried rings of doughy goodness but instead deals with website domains — shot up the list this year after it acquired fellow domain startup Rightside Group for $213 million in June.

In the deal, Donuts got both Rightside’s registry of domain name extensions such as .band, .dance and .sale and the registrar business that sells specific domain names to the public. Prior to the acquisition, Donuts owned close to 200 domain name extensions, including .movie, .LTD, .agency, .email, .school and .group.

The two companies — located just a few miles apart — have flirted in the past. Last year, Rightside turned down what it called an unsolicited and opportunistic offer from Donuts to buy its domain registry business for $70 million.

Textio co-founders Kieran Snyder and Jensen Harris. (Linda Brooks Photography Photo)

Textio — 2017 Rank: 112 | 2016 Rank: 162

“Augmented writing” startup Textio vaulted 50 spots on the GeekWire 200 in the last 12 months as it continues to grow. The company, which provides a platform to help companies put together more effective job postings, raised $20 million over the summer to expand to other types of business writing.

Textio representatives said earlier this year they expected to have a head count of 55 to 60 at the end of the year. Its employee count now comes in at 65, according to LinkedIn, indicating the company is growing a little faster than expected.

In addition to helping employers build better job postings, Textio has been in the public eye in recent months. It has issued studies about the most overused words and phrases in job postings by state, how using terms like artificial intelligence and machine learning can actually make listings less popular and an analysis of Amazon HQ2 sites based on which cities can hire tech talent the fastest.

Unikrn — 2017 Rank: 137 | 2016 Rank: 189

Cryptocurrency mania took over the tech world toward the end of the year as Bitcoin surged to insane heights and caused panic when it started to drop. Seattle esports betting startup Unikrn operates in this brave new world with its own currency: UnikoinGold.

UnikoinGold is based on the Ethereum blockchain, which is similar to Bitcoin, and can be used on its platform to bet on esports matches. Those tokens can be exchanged for other major cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum and Bitcoin, which can then be exchanged for U.S. dollars.

The company raised $31 million earlier this year in an initial coin offering this past October for UnikoinGold. Participants included Unikrn investor Mark Cuban and Ethereum co-founder Anthony Diiorio, who just joined Unikrn’s advisory board. Earlier this month, the startup announced a deal with MGM Sports to host live video game tournaments on Friday and Saturday evenings next year inside the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.


The GeekWire 200 — sponsored by our partners at EY — is derived from our broader list of more than 1,200 Pacific Northwest tech startups. The list is designed to provide a better understanding of the startup landscape in the Northwest. The rankings are generated from publicly available data, including social media followings, approximate employee counts (via LinkedIn) and inbound web links.

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 out-of-town tech companies with Seattle engineering outposts as well as our list of startup incubators, co-working spaces and accelerators in the region, and our GeekWork job board.

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