Movers & Shakers: Seattle Startup CEOs

Seattle (via Flickr Creative Commons)

Seattle is often hailed as a haven of tech startups. After the success of Amazon, many other founders have started their own ventures in The Emerald City. After covering mom bloggers, dad bloggers, and higher education professionals in our Movers & Shakers series, we decided to go a little more high-tech and introduce some of our favorite startup CEOs. And we couldn’t think of a better city to start with than Seattle.

Below are some of the movers & shakers of the Seattle tech startup scene:

Paul Thelen - It’s no secret that Zynga is treading difficult waters at the moment. After an assortment of troubles, including losing their COO, some analysts have declared this a prime opportunity for another online & mobile games company to take the spotlight. And if Paul has his way, his company Big Fish Games will be the one for the job. He gave up the role of CEO four years ago to Jeremy Lewis, but recently reclaimed the position. Now moving quickly, Paul is betting big on Big Fish Casino, an app that allows UK players to win real money, and Big Fish Unliminted, a cloud based gaming service.

Adam Schoenfeld – Adam made headlines a couple weeks ago when his measurement & analytics company, Simply Measured, added Big Fuel to its impressive list of agency clients which already includes Edelman, Ogilvy, and others. He was also recently quoted in Mashable and Yahoo, among other publications, citing data his company pulled showing that Instagram is an up-and-coming platform for brands, with 40 of the Top 100 brands using the photo sharing app.

Darrell Cavens – Darrell, a former SVP at Blue Nile, now has his own powerful ecommerce company. Zulily, a daily deal site featuring products for babies and kids. Congrats are in order for Darrell and the rest of the Zulily team, as they recently passed 5 million members. He’s also slated to speak at Startup Day next month in Bellevue.

T.A. McCann - T.A. is well known for his former position as CEO of Gist, but is now taking on the challenge of VP of BBM at Research in Motion. In fact, as he moves forward with his work at RIM, the company announced last week that Gist would be permanently shut down next month. His original idea won’t completely disappear, though, as BlackBerry 10 announced that next year they will have the functionality to aggregate info from a contact’s blog posts, tweets, and other profiles into a single page on their device.

Andy Liu – Andy, CEO of BuddyTV, made headlines this summer when he helped users navigate the broadcast of the Olympics. Users had the ability to use BuddyTV’s “Olympics Quicklist,” which sorted events by channel & time, and even alerted you when your favorite event was about to start. It’s of no use now that the games are over, but it’s still an interesting feature to read about, and perhaps it will carry into the next Olympics.

Adrian Aoun – Adrian, CEO of Wavii, a news feed startup built around topics, saw an opportunity out of the Olympics as well. More specifically, he knew he could solve the problem many dubbed as #NBCFail. “NBC started having their fail moment,” Adrian says, “Well, we have that data.” It shouldn’t be shocking that Wavii reported spikes of Olympics related traffic around lunch time and in the afternoon, hours before NBC reported event results.

Lara Feltin - Lara is CEO and Co-Founder of Biznik, self-described as a site for “business networking that doesn’t suck.” – It’s a community of support for independent business people. Earlier this year, Biznik took a stance against spam and phony accounts by switching from a freemium model to a pay-only model. With a lot of writers asking questions like “would you ever pay for Twitter or Facebook?,” it seems Lara saw this coming and acted ahead of the curve.

Keith Krach - Keith is CEO of DocuSign, which I have to admit is one of my favorite iPad apps; it allows you to fill out and sign documents all on your touch screen. (And the signatures are recognized legally by the government, making the paper-free process much easier than scanning, faxing, or mailing.) Keith has reason to celebrate these days, as Google Ventures joined DocuSign’s impressive list of investors, bringing the company’s total funding up to about $114 million. That’s not all he’s been up to: the company also recently added Mary Meeker, General Parter at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, to its Board of Directors.

Who are your other favorite Seattle-based startup CEOs? Also, what city do you want to see us feature next?

3 thoughts on “Movers & Shakers: Seattle Startup CEOs

  1. Thanks, Adam. What a great list to be included on! It’s also cool to be called out on Biznik’s shift away from free membership. While “freemium” works really well in some instances, I believe that the real value of any service, is too often only be seen by those who put some skin in the game. I look forward to seeing more from you!

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