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Icertis CEO Samir Bodas and his team accept the award for Deal of the Year at the 2018 GeekWire Awards. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Show me the money! Venture capital investment in Washington state last year reached the highest level since 2000, at $2 billion across 175 deals, according to a report from PwC and CB Insights. This year’s GeekWire Deal of the Year: Funding nominees accounted for nearly a fifth of that sum.

We’ve opened voting in 11 GeekWire Awards categories, and community votes will be factored in with feedback from our more than 30 judges (see here). On May 2 we will announce the winners live on stage at the GeekWire Awards — presented by Wave Business — in front of more than 800 geeks at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle. Community voting ends April 19.

This year’s nominees for Deal of the Year: Funding — Vicis, 98point6, Convoy, JetClosing and Zipwhip — are using technology to solve large scale problems. From protecting the health of football players to organizing the nation’s fragmented trucking industry, they’re looking to make national changes from their Pacific Northwest headquarters.

Last year’s winner, Icertis, landed a $50 million round to help the startup become the Salesforce of contract management. Icertis has since built out its leadership team, adding Neal Singh as COO and Curt Anderson as CFO.

Read about on the finalists and vote on all the categories while you’re here. And don’t forget to grab your tickets, as the GeekWire Awards sell out every year. You can see the nominees for the other Deal of the Year category, for IPOs and acquisitions, here.

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Vicis: $84 million round led by NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers

Vicis CEO Dave Marver. (Vicis Photo)

After a Super Bowl-winning quarterback leads your investment round, where do you go from there?

Vicis closed a $28.5 million Series B round in November, bringing the company’s total funding raised to $84 million since spinning out of the University of Washington in 2014. Aaron Rodgers invested in Vicis through Rx3 Ventures.

Vicis makes high-tech helmets for NFL and youth players alike. The secret is its flexible design, which aims to prevent concussions in the high-impact game of football.

“We invested in VICIS because its commitment to player safety – specifically at the youth level – is one we wanted to support,” Rodgers said in a statement at the time.

Convoy: $185 million investment led by Google VC arm

Convoy co-founder Grant Goodale accepts the award for Next Tech Titan at the 2018 GeekWire Awards. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Talk about fuel in the tank: Convoy‘s $185 million Series C round in September propelled the trucking startup to unicorn status with a valuation that topped $1 billion.

The round was led by the late-stage venture capital arm of Google parent Alphabet, CapitalG. It was the fourth-largest funding round ever for a Washington-based company, according to data from PitchBook.

Convoy connects thousands of drivers and shippers together on a single platform. “We have a big vision and we’re in an ideal position to go after it and see it through,” Convoy co-founder and CEO Dan Lewis said when the funding round was announced. Convoy won the Next Tech Titan honor at the 2018 GeekWire Awards and also won Startup of the Year in 2017.

98point6: $50 million round led by Goldman Sachs

98point6 co-founder and CEO Robbie Cape. (98point6 Photo)

Virtual primary care startup 98point6 looked like a healthy investment to Goldman Sachs, which led a $50 million round in the company this past October. The fresh cash brought the company’s total amount raised to $86.3 million in just over three years.

98point6 CEO Robbie Cape has said the startup is “focused on solving the primary care crisis in America.” The company makes the most of a doctor’s most precious resource by using technology such as AI-fueled chatbots to reduce the time a physician needs to spend with each patient.

JetClosing: $20 million round led by T. Rowe Price

The JetClosing team. (JetClosing Photo)

JetClosing is revamping the outdated home closing process by getting rid of the paperwork and bringing the process to the cloud.

The startup closed a deal of its own last summer, landing a $20 million Series A round last summer with investments from T. Rowe Price as well as PSL Ventures, Imagen Capital Partners, Trilogy Equity Partners and Maveron.

The startup was founded in 2016 after spinning out of Pioneer Square Labs in Seattle.

Zipwhip: $51.5 million round led by Goldman Sachs

The Zipwhip team. (Zipwhip Photo)

The next time a company sends you an emoji, it could be because of Zipwhip.

The Seattle startup is helping companies communicate with their customers over text messages, and it landed $51.5 million earlier this year in a deal that brought its total funding to $92.5 million. The Series D round was led by Goldman Sachs Private Capital Investing group, with participation from existing investors including OpenView, M12, and Voyager Capital.

The company is more than a decade old, but it never wavered from its faith in SMS. “We always believed text messaging would be the future,” Zipwhip CEO John Lauer said at the time of the fundraising. Zipwhip last month leased a new space in Seattle with room for 500 people.

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