Meet the unicorns: A look at the 15 Seattle-area startups that boast valuations over $1 billion

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(Geekwire Photo Illustration/Photo by Kevin Lisota)

Another day, another unicorn spotting.

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These once elusive creatures of the corporate world—privately held companies valued at $1 billion or more—are certainly plentiful these days.

This week, GeekWire reported on another Seattle startup — 5-year-old recruiting tech platform SeekOut — joining the unicorn club. And then today, another blockbuster unicorn boosted its valuation, with Seattle-based sales engagement software company HighSpot raising $248 million at a $3.5 billion valuation.

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The speed at which these startups are raising money at high valuations is mind-boggling, with many long-time watchers of the startup ecosystem saying they have never seen investment momentum at this level. In fact, global venture capital investment more than doubled last year, reaching an all-time record high of $621 billion in investments. More than half of that haul — $311 billion — went to American companies, according to CB Insights Who called last year “bonkers”.

Unicorn startups aren’t just running in the moss-covered Northwest. There are now 959 startups worldwide with a valuation of $1 billion or more. CB Insights reported that this is up 69% from 2020 levels, meaning 517 new unicorns joined the club last year.

Unicorn Club of Seattle.
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Before we learn more about the current crop of Seattle area unicorns, some interesting facts about this group of 15:

  • None of the unicorns in the Seattle area boast a female or Black CEO, a depressing statistic indicating that the enterprise and startup community has a long way to go when it comes to diversifying.
  • Microsoft’s lineage runs deep. Nine of the 15 companies on the list employ CEOs who spent time at the software giant, many of them in high-level executive roles.
  • When we compiled the Seattle area unicorn list in December 2020, there were 10 startups. That list dropped to three last year when Remitly and Sanaa Biotechnology completed their initial public offerings and Auth0 sold Okta for $6.5 billion.
  • Even with that accident, this year’s list has grown to 15, meaning eight new unicorns were minted in 2021.
  • Enterprise software still reigns in this area. Ten out of 15 companies sell their goods to other businesses. Can you name five other startups? (Hint: they’re in the real estate, consumer internet, transportation, clean tech, and gaming categories).
  • And most amazingly: this group of 15 Seattle-area unicorn companies raised a whopping $2.3 billion in the past 12 months. To put that number in perspective, that compares to the $2 billion total that each Washington startup — 175 in total — raised in all of 2018. And that annual race was the highest since 2000. It’s safe to say: There’s a lot of money moving around.

Now, without further delay, let’s meet 15 unicorn startups.

emperity

Emberity co-founders Kabir Shahani (left) and Derek Stager. (Emperority photo)
  • Industry: enterprise customer data
  • GeekWire story from July 2021, Emperity is Seattle’s latest unicorn with $100M round to supercharge its customer data platform
  • Co-Founder and CEO, Kabir Shahani, former CEO of Apture.
  • Evaluation: $1.1 billion (as of July 2021)
  • geekwire 200 rank, number 52
  • Established: 2016

convoy

Dan Lewis (left) and Grant Goodell of the convoy. (Geekwire Photo/Taylor Soper)
  • Industry: Trucking & Logistics
  • GeekWire story from November 2019, Convoy Raises $400M At $2.7B Valuation Amid Trucking Slowdown And Uber Freight Competition
  • Co-Founder and CEO, Dan Lewis |, former general manager of new shopping experiences at Amazon.
  • Evaluation: $3.96 billion (as of September 2021)
  • geekwire 200 rank, number 6
  • Established: 2015

Helion

Helion co-founder and chief technology officer Chris Pihl (left) with founder and CEO David Kirtley at their facility in Redmond, Wash. (Hellion photo)
  • Industry: fusion energy
  • GeekWire story from November 2021, As interest in Fusion Energy grows, Helion receives $500M from OpenAI CEO, Facebook co-founder
  • Co-Founder and CEO, David Kirtley, the former Principal investigator and fusion lead at MSNW and former research scientist at the Air Force Research Laboratory
  • Evaluation: $3.7 billion (as of November 2021)
  • geekwire 200 rank: Unreserved
  • Established: 2013

highspot

Robert Wahle, CEO of HighSpot. (high spot photo)
  • Industry: sales enablement software
  • GeekWire story from January 2022: HighSpot raises $248M at $3.5B valuation as demand for software that helps salespeople grows
  • Co-Founder and CEO: robert wahbe, former corporate vice president in Microsoft’s Server and Tools division.
  • Evaluation: $3.5 billion (as of January 2022)
  • Geekwire 200 Rank: number 14
  • Founded: 2012

isurtis

iSertis CEO Samir Bodas on stage after winning the “Deal of the Year” honor at the GeekWire Awards 2018. (Geekwire Photo/Kevin Lisota)
  • Industry: Sales Contract Management Software
  • GeekWire story from March 2021, Seattle-area startup Icertis now valued at $2.8 billion after fresh $80M round
  • Co-Founder and CEO, Sameer Weddings, former CEO of Aztecsoft, Disha Technologies and former director at Microsoft.
  • Evaluation: $2.8 billion (as of March 2021)
  • geekwire 200 rank, Sequence 3
  • Established: 2009

Kharat

Karat co-founders Mo Bhende (left) and Jeff Spector. (carat photo)
  • Industry: Recruitment and Recruitment
  • GeekWire story from October 2021, Tech Interview Startup Karat reaches $1.1B valuation as another unicorn emerges in Seattle
  • Co-Founder and CEO, Mohit Bhende, former senior director at Microsoft’s Xbox unit.
  • Evaluation: $1.1 billion (as of October 2021)
  • geekwire 200 rank, number 45
  • Established: 2014

offer up

OfferUp CEO Todd Dunlop, left, and OfferUp co-founder and Chief Product Officer Nick Huzar. (offer photo)
  • Industry: Used Goods Market
  • GeekWire story from March 2020: OfferUp raises $120M, will acquire rival Letgo; 40% ownership of the combined entity of OLX Group
  • CEO, Todd Dunlop, former managing director of North America at Booking.com and former vice president of consumer and online at Microsoft.
  • Evaluation: $1.4 billion (as of August 2019)
  • geekwire 200 rank, number nine
  • Established: 2011

outreach

Outreach CEO Manny Medina. (Geekwire file photo/Nat Levy)
  • Industry: Sales Engagement Software
  • GeekWire story from June 2021:outreach lands $200 million, sales push software startup’s valuation to $4.4 billion
  • Co-Founder and CEO, manny medina, former director of business development at Microsoft.
  • Evaluation: $4.4 billion (as of June 2021)
  • geekwire 200 rank: number five
  • Established: 2014

place

Place co-founders Ben Kinney (left) and Chris Suarez. (location photos)
  • Industry: real estate
  • GeekWire story from November 2021Real estate startup Place Anywhere comes up with $100 million round, led by Goldman at $1 billion valuation
  • co-founder, ben kinney, former owner of Active Rain and co-founder of Brevity. Chris Suarez, CEO of PDX Asset Group.
  • Evaluation: $1 billion (as of November 2021)
  • geekwire 200 rank: Unreserved
  • Established: 2019

kumulo

Bill Richter, President and CEO of Kumulo. (Kumulo photo)
  • Industry: cloud data storage
  • GeekWire story from July 2020Seattle’s newest billion-dollar startup: Kumulo reaches unicorn status with $125M round
  • CEO, bill richter, former chairman of the Isilon Storage Division at EMC.
  • Evaluation: $1.2 billion (as of July 2020)
  • geekwire 200 rank: No. 22
  • Established: 2012

red power bike

Mike Radenbaugh, CEO of Red Power Bikes. (Geekwire Photo/Kevin Lisota)
  • Industry: electric bike
  • GeekWire story from October 2021: Red Power Bikes secures this year’s 2nd Mega Round $154M to boost e-bike business
  • Co-Founder and CEO, mike radenbaughFormer Director of Product Development at Golfboard.
  • Evaluation: $1.65 billion (as of October 2021)
  • geekwire 200 rank: No. 13
  • Established: 2007

Rec room

Nick Fajto
Nick Fajt, CEO and co-founder of Rec Room. (Geekwire Photo/Kurt Schlosser)
  • Industry: gaming
  • GeekWire story from December 2021: Seattle VR startup Rec Room raises $145M, reaches $3.5B valuation
  • Co-Founder and CEO, Nick Fajto, former Principal Program Manager working on Microsoft’s HoloLens.
  • Evaluation: $3.5 billion (as of December 2021)
  • geekwire 200 rank: No. 59
  • Established: 2016

Get

Left to right: Anoop Gupta, CEO of SeekOut; Seekout CTO Arvind Bala; Madrona Venture Group Managing Director and Seekout Board member S. “Soma” Somesegar; Manocha, chief development of Seekout Engineering; and SeekOut head of product John Tippett. (seeout photo)
  • Industry: Recruitment and HR Software
  • GeekWire story from January 2022Latest Unicorn vision in Seattle: Seekout lands $115M to expand recruiting software
  • Co-Founder and CEO, Anoop Gupta, a former Microsoft eminent scientist who was a former technical assistant to Bill Gates and previously headed Microsoft’s Unified Communications Group.
  • Evaluation: $1.2 billion (as of January 2022)
  • geekwire 200 rank: No. 106
  • Established: 2017

tannium

Orion Hindavi, CEO of Tanium. (tanium photo)
  • Industry: Cyber ​​security
  • GeekWire story from December 2020Tech CEO Moves $9B Cyber ​​Security Company Headquarters To Seattle Area, Says SF ‘Not The City It Was’
  • Co-Founder and CEO, orion hindvi, former vice president of technology at BigFix
  • Evaluation: over $9 billion (as of December 2020)
  • geekwire 200 rank: No. 4
  • Established: 2007

zenotti

Genoty CEO Sudhir Koneru. (Zenotti photo)
  • Industry: Salon & Spa Software
  • GeekWire story from June 2021: ‘Next Tech Titan’ Fresh Wins at GeekWire Awards, Zanotti Receives $80M, Up to $330M in Total Funding
  • Co-Founder and CEO, Sudhir Koneru, former Executive Vice President of Products and COO at Click2Learn and former Product Unit Manager at Microsoft.
  • Evaluation: over $1.5 billion (as of June 2021)
  • geekwire 200 rank: No. 12
  • Established: 2010

*Editor’s Note: Data collected via Geekwire, PitchBook, LinkedIn and SEC filings.

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