The fastest-growing major city in the United States, Seattle is home to established companies such as Boeing, Nordstrom and Starbucks. Moreover, since prominent tech companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Expedia set up in the Emerald city, a stream of startups have followed suit. Over the last decade, Seattle has flourished, and today boasts a robust and diverse startup community. Top-tier accelerators like Techstars catapult young entrepreneurs forward, while dark rainy winters keep them imbibing coffee and coding hard. The surrounding outdoors attract adventurers and risk takers – many of whom pioneer startups. The University of Washington churns out talented software developers and engineers, fueling the local tech industry. Still, lots of that talent is attracted toward larger and well-established businesses, while a limited number of local VCs complicates fundraising for startups. Nevertheless, the recent string of major IPOs and a close-knit startup community are signs of a promising ecosystem that’s expanding its national startup identity.
These businesses offer industry expertise and are a source of startup talent and potential customers. They help fuel the local startup community.
IPO'd at $2.0B on
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IPO'd at $4.6B on
In addition to his roles as a Managing Director at Pioneer Square Labs, a Partner at both Madrona and Voyager over the years, and Chairman of the Alliance of Angels, Geoff is also a prolific angel investor. In the last two decades, he has invested in over 100 startups.
As the current Managing Director at Techstars, Chris leads the cohorts of Seattle's best known accelerator program. He is also cofounder of the seed-stage investment fund Founders' Co-op and serves as an advisor or board member to more than a dozen startups in Seattle.
Another of Seattle's 'super angels' with over 60 area investments. Prior to Founders Co-op, Rudy was an executive and General Counsel at both Amazon and Facebook.
The many individuals behind Madrona make up the most prolific early-stage VC backing Seattle-area startups. Over the years, their presence has been consistent, and with over $1B under management, their impact on Seattle's entrepreneurs is without a doubt significant.
Since 1977, Ed has shepherded many of the region's best engineering students through the university and into the arms of startups and tech giants. Currently holding the Bill & Melinda Gates Chair, his contributions toward computer science and the Seattle tech community are profound.
Bob Nelsen is one of the most prolific biotech and pharma investors in the country. As both a very active angel investor and as Managing Director at ARCH, Bob has invested in dozens of startups in the bio industry, many of which have exceeded billion dollar valuations.
Another of Seattle's highly active angels, Serena was previously the CEO of Twango (acquired) and a Director at Microsoft during the '90s.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz co-founded Maveron with Dan Levitan in 2001, and the group has made many notable investments since. Maveron is a leader in retail technology investments, leveraging Seattle's robust retail industry and scouring the country for the best opportunities. Notable investments include Zulily, Potbelly, and Quellos.
Rebecca is one of the many startup community leaders who are driving activity, engagement, and support for Seattle's startups. In her role at the City, she is helping drive storytelling for the city's entrepreneurs and unlock a variety of resources for the tech industry. She is also a Mentor at a number of accelerator and incubator programs.
Founded in 2011 by longtime journalists John Cook and Todd Bishop, and startup veteran Jonathan Sposato, Geekwire is a national technology news site with strong roots in the Seattle region and an audience of readers around the globe. The founders have given Seattle startups a powerful voice and have helped disseminate knowledge and unite the startup community.
Now based in Redmond, WA, the company will anchor Seattle's technology scene for generations.1979
One of Seattle's earliest and greatest 'angel-funded' success stories was Starbucks. A variety of doctors and entrepreneurs took a chance on Howard Shultz, helping him get his brick & mortar experiment -- then called 'Il Gionale' -- off the ground.1985
A bellweather source of funding for Seattle startups, Madrona is a prolific early-stage venture group, having invested more than $1B in assets to the Seattle region.1995
The Alliance is one of the most active angel groups in the Seattle area, helping bankroll many entrepreneurs off the ground.1997
One of the original Silicon Valley tech giants to establish an engineering center in the Seattle area, many have since followed, compounding Seattle's strength as an engineering hub.Fall 2004
Educating new entrepreneurs around the world, Startup Weekend brought significant attention to Seattle as it projected its brand of events across the globe, encouraging hundreds of thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs to take action.Sept 2009
A multiyear process originally announced in late 2007, Amazon's HQ shift has redefined the startup layout of Seattle, transformed South Lake Union and the surrounding downtown. Of course, it's creation and IPO in the '90s also had profound effects on Seattle.May 2010
The expansion of Techstars' accelerator program to Seattle helped legitimize the city and attract entrepreneurs worldwide, while creating a local focal point for founders to gather and collaborate.Fall 2010
A monumental moment for Seattle startups as it gave local exposure to the region's wins and stories that inspire.Spring 2011
IPO'ing at $3.0B, Zillow is credited as injecting tons of momentum into Seattle. The IPO crafted more angels, spun out more founders and mentors, and was quickly followed by several other multi-billion dollar exits (Concur, Tableau, Zulily, Juno, Popcap, etc).July 20, 2011