The Oscars and the Grammys have passed, but awards season is far from over. We’re just a few weeks away from the 2018 GeekWire Awards, and today we’re opening voting with one of the year’s hottest categories: Hire of the Year.
Talent is everything in the tech world. This year’s nominees are the movers and shakers shaping the the next frontier of cloud technology to innovative startups to fast-growing billion-dollar unicorns. Now, we need your help to crown one of these impressive tech leaders as the Hire of the Year.
Over the next two weeks, we’re opening voting in 13 GeekWire Awards categories, with GeekWire readers choosing their top picks in each. Our finalists were nominated by the community and selected by a panel of expert judges. Check back on GeekWire each day to cast your ballots as we open more categories for voting.
The winners will be revealed at the GeekWire Awards — presented by Wave Business — on May 10 at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle.
Tickets are on sale for the big Awards show, but we sell out each year, so don’t snooze if you want to join the fun. Tickets available here.
A big thank-you to Indeed for sponsoring Hire of the Year, and congratulations to all our finalists: Chloe Harford, VP of product at OfferUp; Julie Larson Green, chief experience officer at Qualtrics; Jason LeeKeenan, CEO of TraceMe; Julie Sandler, managing director at Pioneer Square Labs; and Steve Singh, CEO of Docker.
Read more about each finalist and vote for your pick below.
Chloe Harford, VP of Product, OfferUp: It’s not hard to see why OfferUp would want someone like Chloe Harford on its team. Harford was one of the earliest employees at real estate technology company Zillow, sticking with the company through all the trials of startup life and serving as a high-ranking executive as it grew and went public
She joined OfferUp, the person-to-person marketplace provider, in July as its vice president of product. OfferUp is one of the few private Seattle-area companies valued at more than $ 1 billion, making it one of tech’s elusive Unicorn companies. Harford is also a longtime mentor in the Seattle TechStars program. If that’s not impressive enough, she started her career as a scientific officer at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory
“I’ve long admired OfferUp’s thoughtful approach to growth and its community-first mentality,” Harford told GeekWire at the time. “It is inspiring to work with a team so dedicated to providing the best user experience.”
OfferUp is one of the Seattle area’s fastest-growing startup companies, reeling in $ 116 million in venture funding in 2016 at a valuation north of $ 1 billion.
Julie Larson Green, Chief Experience Officer, Qualtrics: Longtime Microsoft executive Julie Larson Green left the company after almost 25 years in October, but she didn’t stay out of the tech world for long. She joined experience management company Qualtrics as its chief experience officer in December, arriving at the company at a time when user and employee experience is a huge emphasis for most companies.
Although Qualtrics is technically headquartered in Provo, Utah, the company considers its 235 (and growing) employee office in Seattle a co-headquarters. Qualtrics makes products that help companies improve customer, client and employee experiences.
“Culture has such a huge impact on the outcome of the product and the outcome of the business,” Larson-Green told GeekWire at the time. “Putting that more front and center and not having as much of a silo as it’s been in the past is a really exciting opportunity.”
The company scooped up $ 180 million in venture funding at a $ 2.5 billion valuation last fall.
Jason LeeKeenan, CEO, TraceMe: Jason LeeKeenan probably has the most glamorous job among this year’s nominees. In September, he and Seahawks Quarterback Russel Wilson unveiled a new celebrity startup, TraceMe, which gives paying users access to exclusive, intimate content from celebrities.
Willson founded the startup through Seattle studio Pioneer Square Labs. That’s where he met LeeKeenan, a former executive at Hulu and Zulily, who the Pioneer Square Labs team picked to serve as TraceMe’s CEO.
“We kept hearing a recurring narrative for [celebrities] around wanting to speak directly to their fans in a really up-close and personal way,” LeeKeenan told GeekWire at the startup’s launch.
TraceMe scored $ 9 million in startup funding last year from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos; YouTube founder Chad Hurley; Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai; Dick Clark Productions President Mike Mahan; Wheels Up founder Kenny Dichter and Seattle-based venture capital firm Madrona Venture Group led the round.
And LeeKeenan knows his way around the GeekWire Awards stage, since he accepted the award for Zulily in 2014 for Zulily, which took home the top prize in the Deal of the Year category. Will he be back on stage this year?
Julie Sandler, Managing Director, Pioneer Square Labs: Julie Sandler is no stranger to the startup world. This Harvard and Stanford grad has spent the last five years as an advisor, investor and mentor, in part through her six-year-long role as an investment partner at Madrona Venture Group.
But in June, Sandler joined another hot startup hub in Seattle: the up-and-coming startup studio and incubator Pioneer Square Labs, which has so far spun out nine startups including TraceMe, advertising intelligence company Ad Lightning and immigration assistance company Boundless. Sandler described Pioneer Square Labs as a startup itself and told GeekWire she was excited to help shape the organization from an early stage.
Sandler is also a past GeekWire Award winner, taking home the 2014 award for Geek of the Year.
Steve Singh, CEO, Docker: Docker is the leader in container technology, a critical component of deploying software in the cloud. In May, the tech powerhouse brought on a heavy hitter for its next phase of growth: Former Concur CEO and SAP executive Steve Singh.
Singh served as the CEO of Concur, the popular expense management service, for more than 23 years and oversaw its sale to enterprise software company SAP for $ 8.3 billion. Now, as Docker CEO and chairman, Singh has a big opportunity in front of him.
“Every once in awhile you find transformational companies, companies that can really change the technology landscape,” Singh told GeekWire at the time. “Docker is that kind of company.”
Based in Silicon Valley, Docker is growing rapidly in the Pacific Northwest, a place that Singh still calls home and a region he feels is top notch when it comes to tech. “This is an incredible community with incredible technology talent,” Singh said at the GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit last year. “Obviously, it’s cloud city as well.”