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GeekWire’s 2015 Newsmakers of the Year: These industry leaders made their mark in tech, science and space

newsmakersIt has been one other big yr for know-how and science in the Seattle area — that includes the whole lot from rocket launches to large financing rounds to breakthrough gadgets and large acquisitions.

Microsoft is exhibiting new indicators of life, whereas Amazon is experiencing unprecedented development amid new questions on its office tradition. In the meantime, new biotech firms are making main strides in opposition to most cancers and different illnesses.

We doc these adjustments every single day on GeekWire by means of our information protection, and final evening at the GeekWire Gala, we unveiled our 2015 Newsmakers of the 12 months. This annual custom, now in its fifth yr, acknowledges the individuals behind some the greatest tales of the yr.

Some of our 2015 Newsmakers have been in attendance at the occasion final evening, receiving limited-edition GeekWire soccer scarves and cheers from the crowd of greater than 1,000 individuals. And in a brand new twist, we acknowledged one very giant (and rising) group of individuals as newsmakers. Proceed studying for particulars. With out additional ado, right here they’re — our 2015 GeekWire Newsmakers of the 12 months.

It’s been a busy yr for Dara Khosrowshahi, who’s serving to Expedia make key acquisitions and put together for an enormous transfer from Bellevue to Seattle. The journey big swooped up firms like Travelocity ($280 million), Orbitz ($1.6 billion) and HomeAway ($3.9 billion) all in the final yr.

Expedia additionally introduced this yr that it’s going to move its headquarters from Bellevue to a new Seattle waterfront campus in 2019, taking on the former Amgen campus alongside Elliott Bay.

The 46-year-old Khosrowshahi grew to become CEO in 2005. Since then, Expedia’s stock has enhance by almost 400 %.

It’s been an enormous yr for Spaceflight Industries. Led by CEO Jason Andrews, the firm raised $19 million in funding to gas the firm’s ride-share program for satellites, a key growth in the industrial space industry.

Spaceflight Industries helps the U.S. authorities and different clients launch small satellites on bigger space transportation autos.

“We don’t construct rockets,” Andrews mentioned earlier this yr. “What we do is take extra capability on current rockets and we bundle small payloads, and launch them to space.”

The corporate additionally introduced this yr that its subsidiary, BlackSky World, will ship satellites into mid-latitude orbits — six in 2016, 60 by 2019 — and present clients in a spread of industries with photographs of the planet in close to real-time.

After being named CFO in 2013, Amy Hood has helped Microsoft recreate its picture on Wall Avenue, with the firm’s top off greater than 40 % in the previous two years.

The corporate has been in a position to compensate for ongoing sluggishness in the Home windows PC market with new growth in its cloud platform and services, together with Workplace 365 and Home windows Azure. Share buybacks and common dividends have helped to appease buyers. Hood, the firm’s first-ever feminine chief monetary officer, additionally led a restructuring of Microsoft’s financial reporting underneath the imaginative and prescient laid out by CEO Satya Nadella.

Microsoft nonetheless faces large questions on its future, including some new criticism from its former CEO, Steve Ballmer. However as signaled by the rebound in the firm’s inventory, buyers are wanting extra favorably on the firm than they’ve in a few years.

Greater than 12 years after founding Blue Field, Jesse Proudman sold his cloud computing startup to IBM this previous summer season. The College of Puget Sound graduate bootstrapped the firm its early days earlier than elevating enterprise capital to assist firms set up and preserve non-public cloud installations.

“We explored a quantity of choices, and for us the query was: What group had the breadth and sheer imaginative and prescient round our know-how providing and how we must always carry it to market?” Proudman mentioned in June. “As we acquired deeper in the dialog with IBM, it was a no brainer that they have been the apparent winner.”

Proudman, the winner of GeekWire’s 2014 Younger Entrepreneur of the 12 months, is now a distinguished engineer at IBM, serving as a technical advisor for the firm and serving to to form its enterprise choices. He’s additionally large automotive racer and a mentor at 9Mile Labs and the College of Washington.

Biotech and medical system veteran Hans Bishop is the CEO of Juno Therapeutics, an organization that has skilled meteoric development in the quest to treatment most cancers.

One yr in the past the firm went public, with the younger Seattle biotech firm elevating another $264 million on prime of $314 million in enterprise capital financing it raised in the previous two years to assist revolutionize the approach most cancers is handled. Since then, biotech powerhouse Celgene invested $1 billion in the highly-touted upstart as half of a 10-year alliance, whereas Juno opened a manufacturing facility near Seattle.

After pricing its inventory at $24 per share at the IPO, shares of Juno at the moment are up greater than one hundred pc in the previous yr.

You’ll be able to expect more innovation and commercialization of research ideas to come back out of the College of Washington underneath new president Ana Mari Cauce, who was appointed to her new position this past October seven months after the 59-year-old was named interim president.

Cauce, who’s been an element of the UW college since 1986, helps information the college’s innovation efforts, together with a brand new Bellevue, Wash.-based know-how graduate faculty based as a joint effort between UW, China’s Tsinghua College and firms like Microsoft.

There’s an huge quantity of analysis cash ($1.5 billion) that involves the UW every year, however to Cauce, it’s not about the numbers.

“What’s actually necessary is the impression that that has in the world,” she mentioned in October. “We need to be sure our discoveries really make a distinction in the world.”


As Amazon posted meteoric development all through 2015, the firm’s office got here underneath elevated scrutiny with the publication of a New York Times story detailing Amazon’s bruising office and resulting in requires adjustments at the know-how big.

Present and former staff defended the company and its practices whereas disagreeing with the Times’ portrayal of Amazon. Others stepped ahead consequently of the story, sharing their own difficult experiences at Amazon and asking CEO Jeff Bezos to make the firm a extra hospitable place for ladies and mother and father.

The Seattle tech big did add employee benefits towards the finish of 2015, boosting maternity depart, providing paid paternity depart for first time, and creating ‘Depart Share’ program for spouses. However the scrutiny raised new questions on Amazon’s capacity to draw and retain staff, and to maintain its tradition and development long-term.
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