Five Unsung Heroes of the Seattle Tech Scene

8/20/09Follow @gthuang

The Seattle area is known for its technology giants like Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing, and RealNetworks. It’s also known for its popular tech startups like Zillow, Wetpaint, Pet Holdings (I Can Has Cheezburger), iLike, and Big Fish Games. But there are dozens of other sizable tech companies operating behind the scenes, quietly executing on their vision to change the world. You don’t see these companies mentioned in the media very much. They generally aren’t built on large venture funding rounds, and they tend to be not very flashy. That’s why I call them unsung heroes.

I’m going to point out five of them here. This is not a “Top 5″ list, and it’s not the end of the story—it’s just the beginning. Here are my (admittedly arbitrary) criteria. I looked for privately held companies with tremendous engineering talent and a strong influence on their particular market—proportional to their size and the amount of attention they get. I looked across different tech sectors like Internet, business software, consulting services, gaming, and entertainment. I also looked for companies that have weathered the recession to this point and have kept charging forward. Lastly, I wanted companies that mainstream readers may not have heard about lately.

The problem with a list like this, of course, is that it’s subjective. There are plenty of other companies around town that could be on the list—and I want to hear about those too. But for now, here’s a snapshot of five Seattle-area companies that are quietly delivering the goods:

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Jetstream Software (Kirkland, WA)
Mike Moskowitz, CEO

This 15-year old applications development firm makes software products for big companies and startups alike. Its list of customers includes Microsoft, Intel, IBM, F5 Networks, Captaris, SnapIn Software, HouseValues, and the University of Washington. In fact, if you pick any prominent organization around town, there’s a good chance Jetstream has done work for them. The company has developed tools for Microsoft that shipped with Office and Windows Media Center, for example. And the firm often serves as the entire development team for Web startups, say, that want to create a user interface or product. The 25-person company, largely made up of senior engineers, works on projects across software publishing, … Next Page »

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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