2022 GeekWire Awards revealed: Community celebrates big winners in Pacific NW tech
From top left, clockwise: Varun Puri of Yoodli; Sen. Sharon Brown; Saema Somalya of Remitly; Viraj Mody and Linda Lian of Common Room; Vija Williams of Place; Doug Baldwin. (GeekWire Photos / Kevin Lisota)
It felt good to say it and hear it, and it felt even better to see it in action on Thursday in Seattle as the tech community gathered for the GeekWire Awards in person for the first time in three years.
With a room full of innovators, entrepreneurs, CEOs, scientists, tech titans, talented teachers and more at Showbox SoDo, GeekWire recognized more than 60 finalists and honorees across 15 categories. There were hundreds of nominations and more than 16,000 community votes this year.
After a rough couple of years because of a pandemic that kept everyone apart, being together again seemed to strike a tone, from the first award to the last.
“It takes a village to build a startup, so thank all of you guys in Seattle tech for making this place a village,” said Linda Lian, CEO of Common Room, as she accepted the night’s first award — Startup of the Year.
“We believe that nice people can come first,” said Anoop Gupta of SeekOut, as he accepted CEO of the Year honors at the end of the show. “Being nice, being empathetic does not mean that you’re not results oriented, and that you don’t compete.”
The scene at the 2022 GeekWire Awards at the Showbox SoDo in Seattle on Thursday. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
In between, guest appearances in person and via video included Seattle Opera sensation Robert “The Drunken Tenor” McPherson; Death Cab for Cutie singer Ben Gibbard; Seattle Seahawks great Doug Baldwin; and President of the United States of America singer Chris Ballew.
Baldwin addressed the crowd like he was rallying his former team in a huddle, commanding attention like he used to on the football field.
“There’s a lot of power, a lot of influence and a lot of money in this room. And I want you to hear this from me,” he said. “I encourage you to realize the power and the influence that you have, the impact that you have. I know we’re here to have fun, but please don’t forget the impact that you can make in the community. Don’t take that for granted.”
Across categories recognizing deals, innovations, hardware, workplaces, geeks who give back and more, the winners paid tribute to their teams, their customers and the wider community for supporting the journey.
Stephanie Winslow, a teacher at South Kitsap High School, was honored as one of three STEM Educators of the Year. She said she came to the event not knowing what to expect. She left the stage to a cheering audience, clutching a robot trophy.
“As I was talking to people in the crowd, I was brought to tears by the excitement and the amazing things that are happening,” Winslow said in her acceptance speech. “As a teacher, you could have been my students. You are making your dreams come true. Your teachers would be very proud. Keep on doing what you’re doing!”
Keep reading for all the winners and honorees from the 2022 GeekWire Awards, presented by Astound Business Solutions.
Startup of the Year, presented by Meridian Capital
Winner: Common Room
Viraj Mody, left, and Linda Lian, co-founders of Common Room, accept the Startup of the Year award at the 2022 GeekWire Awards in Seattle on Thursday. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
The gist: Common Room’s software aims to help companies deepen relationships with their users and customers. Integrating with communication apps such as Slack, Twitter, Discord, and more, the idea is to make “community” a competitive advantage, connecting users with each other and soliciting product feedback. CEO Linda Lian is a former associate at Madrona Venture Group and senior product marketing manager at Amazon Web Services. CTO Viraj Mody was formerly the engineering director at Dropbox and technical advisor to the CEO at Seattle startup Convoy.
See this post for more background on this category. Other finalists: Copper Banking; DexCare; Logixboard; and WhyLabs.
Young Entrepreneur of the Year, presented by ALLtech
Varun Puri, co-founder of Yoodli, accepts the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
The gist: Yoodli is an AI-enabled software platform that analyzes delivery and gives tips for improvement — in a non-judgmental way — on public speaking opportunities such as company presentations or wedding toasts. The Seattle startup is an AI2 spinout, and Puri and Joshi are AI2 entrepreneurs-in-residence.
See this post for more background on this category. Other finalists: Nancy Xiao; Tori Dunlap; Shane Kovalsky; and Michael Petrochuk.
Public Policy Champion for Innovation, presented by WTIA
Sen. Sharon Brown, right, accepts the Public Policy Champion for Innovation award, alongside Dr. Wendy Carlyle, who was accepting on behalf of her husband, Sen. Reuven Carlyle. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
The gist: This new award recognizes outstanding elected officials in Washington state for their contributions to the tech sector. Sen. Reuven Carlyle of Seattle counts his work addressing climate change as his most important contribution to the Legislature. Sen. Sharon Brown of Kennewick, Wash., established the SciTech Caucus, open to lawmakers from either house and any party, to advance technology solutions.
See this post for more background on this category and other highlights from Brown’s and Carlyle’s careers.
Deal of the Year: Funding, presented by Wilson Sonsini
Vija Williams, head of industry at Place, accepts the Deal of the Year, Funding award. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
The gist: Bellingham, Wash.-based Place, a real estate technology and services company, raised the first outside capital in its history last November: a $100 million Series A round led by Goldman Sachs Asset Management, at a valuation of more than $1 billion.
See this post for more background on this category. Other finalists: Esper; Tomo; Shelf Engine; and Symbl.ai.
Deal of the Year: IPOs, Acquisitions & Mega Financings, presented by Wilson Sonsini
Saema Somalya, general counsel at Remitly, acceps the award for Deal of the Year, IPOs, Acquisitions, & Mega Financings. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
The gist: Remitly was valued at nearly $7 billion when it went public last September. The Seattle fintech giant’s mobile technology lets people send and receive money across borders, including immigrants in the U.S. and U.K. who support families back home in countries such as the Philippines, India, El Salvador, and others. The service eliminates forms, codes, and agents typically associated with the international money transfer process.
See this post for more background on this category. Other finalists: Ally, ExtraHop, Rec Room, and ZipWhip.
Innovation of the Year, presented by Astound Business Solutions
Winner: First Mode
Maggie Scholtz, vice president of engineering at First Mode, takes home the trophy for Innovation of the Year for First Mode. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
The gist: The Seattle engineering company has developed a hydrogen fuel cell generator that can power massive trucks, retrofitting big vehicles to provide a clean source of energy. One of the first applications of the generator created “one of the biggest zero-emission vehicles on the planet,” which made its debut last week at a South African platinum mine.
See this post for more background on this category. Other finalists: Eviation, Helion, Spaceflight Inc., and StormSensor.
Health Innovation of the Year
Truveta COO Lisa Gurry accepts the company’s award for Health Innovation of the Year. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
The gist: Truveta aims to aggregate data across healthcare systems to provide medical insights. The Seattle-area startup has 20 healthcare partners and access to medical records representing more than 15% of U.S. patient care. The ultimate goal is to learn which health interventions work best and to improve patient care, CEO Terry Myerson, a former Microsoft executive, told GeekWire. The company recently released an early version of its health data platform and has raised close to $200 million in funding to date.
See this post for more background on this category. Other finalists: A-Alpha Bio; Parse Biosciences; Tasso; and the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design.
UX Design of the Year, presented by Blink UX
Prem Kumar, co-founder and CEO of Humanly, accepts the company’s award for UX Design of the Year. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
The gist: Founded in 2018, Humanly is a Seattle HR startup that helps companies screen job candidates, schedule interviews, automate initial communication, run reference checks, and more. GeekWire Awards judges said they “enjoyed the grassroots human-centered design effort that the team put into this app — the founders conducting their own research in the field. We were impressed with their focus on diversity and this was apparent in several areas and features of the platform.”
See this post for more background on this category. Other finalists: Crelate; Genba; and Secure.
STEM Educator of the Year, presented by DreamBox Learning
Winners: Devina Khan, Johanna Brown, Stephanie Winslow
Devina Khan, teacher at West Valley School District 208. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)Johanna Brown, teacher at Pullman High School. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)Stephanie Winslow, teacher at South Kitsap High School. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
The gist: Devina Khan is an instructional designer at the West Valley Innovation Center in Yakima County where, among other things, she has promoted tech education for middle school students, guiding them to earning Microsoft certifications in seventh grade. | Johanna Brown has embraced a “gradeless” classroom at Pullman High School, where instead of accumulating points, students demonstrate their mastery of subjects through inquiry, project-based learning, and explaining the science. | Stephanie Winslow is a teacher of AP environmental science, astronomy and earth science classes, and an advisor for STEM Club and the Link Crew leadership program at South Kitsap High School.
See this post for more background on this category.
Geeks Give Back Award, presented by BECU
From left, Trey Chenier, an associate with Perkins Coie’s Startup & Venture Capital Practice, on behalf of The Black Boardroom Initiative; George Hu, co-founder of COVIDWA.com; and Kiana Pan, president of Coding Dojo, during the Geeks Give Back award acceptance. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
The gist: In less than a month, the all-volunteer effort COVIDWA.com created a platform to help Washington residents efficiently locate highly sought after COVID vaccines. COVIDWA helped serve some 3 million users. | Founded nearly a decade ago, Coding Dojo has trained 11,000 students and awarded $13 million dollars in financial support. Recently, the company created a program benefitting refugee students. | Perkins Coie launched the Black Boardroom Initiative to increase the diversity of S&P 500 corporate boards by training potential candidates.
See this post for more background on this category.
Hardware/Gadget/Robotics of the Year
Amy King, CEO of Pallet, accepts the award for Hardware/Gadget/Robotics of the Year. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
The gist: Pallet is an Everett, Wash.-based social purpose corporation working to end unsheltered homelessness. The company’s shelters are made of easy to assemble hard plastic panels. A single unit can be erected in an hour and a 50-cabin village can be built in a day. The structures are easy to clean and resistant to mildew and water damage.
See this post for more background on this category. Other finalists: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Carbon Robotics; Wyze; and Picnic.
Next Tech Titan, presented by Fuel Talent
Lucas Welch, VP of marketing at Highspot, accepts the company’s win for Next Tech Titan. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
The gist: Highspot’s enterprise software aims to help make salespeople more efficient, equipping them with technology to improve how they have conversations with prospective buyers, among other features. The company reeled in $248 million as part of a Series F round in January, less than a year after raising $200 million. It is now valued at $3.5 billion, which is up 4X over the past two years.
See this post for more background on this category. Other finalists: fabric; iSpot; Karat; and OctoML.
Workplace of the Year, presented by JLL
Ravi Soin, vice president of SaaS, IT & operations at Edifecs, accepts the company’s Workplace of the Year award. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
The gist: Bellevue, Wash.-based healthcare software company Edifecs offers services that enable interoperability of data across systems, unifying clinical and financial information. The company prides itself on centering its culture “from the inside out,” ensuring each employee has access to health and wellness resources they need to feel happy and productive at work. The company offers a state-of-the-art “Wellbeing Center” complete with yoga classes, bikes for commuting, fresh-squeezed juice, and weekly cooking classes. It also offers virtual dance classes and nutrition support.
See this post for more background on this category. Other finalists: F5; Flyhomes; Icertis; and Uplevel.
Startup CEO of the Year, presented by Aon
Included’s Raghu Gollamudi, winner of the Startup CEO of the Year. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
The gist: Included’s software supports its customers diversity, equity and inclusion efforts with measures like evaluating the diversity of the candidate pool and interview panel. Gollamudi previously launched Integris Software, a privacy tech company, which was acquired by OneTrust Data Discovery for an undisclosed sum. His interest in Included has origins in experiencing a variety of work cultures as an immigrant from India.
See this post for more background on this category. Other finalists: Justin Beals of Strike Graph; Gaurav Oberoi of Lexion; Linda Lian of Common Room; and Ambika Singh of Armoire.
CEO of the Year, presented by RSM US, LLP
Anoop Gupta, left, CEO of SeekOut, accepts the CEO of the Year award alongside GeekWire co-founder John Cook. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
The gist: SeekOut’s AI-powered recruiting technology is used by more than 1,000 companies. The company, which won Startup of the Year honors at the 2021 GeekWire Awards, saw its annual recurring revenue triple in the last nine months of 2021, into the $25-to-$50 million range. Anoop Gupta is a former technical assistant to Bill Gates who previously led Microsoft’s Unified Communications Group. SeekOut raised $115 million in new funding in January at a valuation of more than $1 billion.
See this post for more background on this category. Other finalists: Karl Siebrecht of Flexe; Bill Richter of Qumulo; Sandi Lin of Skilljar; Xiao Wang of Boundless; and Maria Colacurcio of Syndio.
A big thanks to Astound Business Solutions, the presenting sponsor of the 2022 GeekWire Awards. Also, thanks to gold-level and category sponsors: Wilson Sonsini, ALLtech, JLL, DreamBox Learning, Blink UX, BECU, Baird, Fuel Talent, RSM, Aon, Meridian Capital, and WTIA. And thanks to silver level sponsors: J.P. Morgan Chase, Material+, Tomo, and Uncruise Adventures.