the 11 coolest companies to work for in seattle
By o.c. tanner
Culture | March 6, 2013
Been to Seattle lately? If so, you know it’s one of the coolest cities in the country. It’s also home to some very cool companies—businesses that go one better in providing positive work environments, plus the perks and benefits that encourage, recognize, and reward outstanding performance. As any HR professional will tell you, this kind of corporate coolness is what enables companies to attract, motivate, and retain top talent for the long term. If you’ve been looking for ways to increase your company’s “cool factor”, we selected 10 of the very best—and then we went one better. Here’s a look at the 11 coolest companies to work for in the Seattle area.
1. Expedia, Inc.
Regarded as one of the world’s leading online travel companies, Expedia, Inc. of Bellevue, scores consistent coolness kudos for having a corporate culture allowing employees to achieve a healthy work/life balance. The company is also known for providing a relaxed, casual work environment that encourages individuals to take initiative and fosters collaboration. Along with comprehensive benefits and generous vacation and travel perks, Expedia also has programs that recognize and reward employees for their efforts and achievements in relevant and meaningful ways.
This fast-growing Bothell-based software company is revolutionizing the insurance industry with cloud computing, mobile applications, and other cutting-edge technology. Employees say the thing they love most about working at Vertafore is the ability to make an impact. They say the company has a clear product focus and strong leadership. In addition to a generous benefits package, including bonuses and merit increases, the company’s Connect & Reward program empowers employees to recognize great work. They also have a robust wellness program which reinforces healthy lifestyles. Vertafore also provides career growth opportunities for their employees such as a mini-MBA program with the University of Washington Bothell, where employees spend a series of weekends combining classroom learning and day-to-day experiences.
“What’s SEO?” That’s a question a lot of companies were asking not that long ago. Then SEOmoz came along and made Search Engine Optimization a must have for companies looking to measure and maximize inbound marketing. At the company’s Pike Place headquarters in Seattle, SEO stands for “Seriously Energized Office”. From indoor rock climbing to ping-pong tournaments to Wii dance competitions, scavenger hunts, and more; SEOmoz is big on rewarding its hard working employees with a myriad of health-minded perks. And when it comes to benefits, such as salaries comparative to Microsoft and Google, three weeks paid vacation, flex time, and a killer 401K plan, SEOmoz has it all. In fact one employee describes the company’s benefits package as “almost embarrassingly generous”. How much cooler can a company get?
Founded in 1938 as a co-op in Kent, REI has a very cool heritage and celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. Known for having an open culture that encourages communication and teamwork, REI’s philosophy is to build and promote from within. As part of their orientation, new hires learn team-building skills by participating with co-workers and leaders in service projects designed to protect and restore the environment. In terms of employee recognition programs, REI offers two types of peer nominated awards. The first is the Leadership Award where the CEO, Sr. VP’s, and 12 other leaders who receive the award, travel to New Mexico to connect as a group and talk about what it means to be a leader. The second is the Anderson Award where 125 recipients below management level are recognized for their contributions with a trip to the REI campus in Seattle. There they meet leaders and enjoy a true REI experience through kayaking, boating, biking, and numerous other outdoor activities. For those who have more than a passive appreciation of the outdoors, REI is a very cool company to work for.
5. Nintendo of America
With a nice new corporate headquarters in Redmond, including a company gym and soccer field, plus an array of products that could only be described as awesome, Nintendo of America has corporate coolness to spare. Along with a generous benefits package, the company offers its employees deep discounts on Nintendo games, hardware, and merchandise, plus plenty of perks such as free corporate suite tickets to Mariners, Sounders, and Seahawk games. In a relaxed, friendly work environment with open communication, leaders make sure every department is dialed in to the company’s goals and objectives. Performance is rewarded through an equitable bonus package, and achievements are recognized at fun corporate events throughout the year. The company also offers employees free classes for career advancement along with opportunities to learn Japanese and work in Japan.
As a provider of integrated travel and expense solutions for corporations, Concur, also in Redmond, scores consistently high employee marks in the areas of work/life balance, corporate culture, management, compensation, and benefits. And with a reputation for cultivating a family culture in which the role each employee plays in the company’s success is continually recognized by a very accessible leadership team, it’s no wonder Concur is considered a very cool and desirable place to work.
Specializing in technology business management that enables companies to make the most out of their IT services in terms of cost, quality, and value, Apptio prides itself in attracting and retaining employees who are motivated and like being constantly challenged. As a reward for their efforts, this Bellevue company’s employees receive a generous healthcare and benefits package, including paid time off and reimbursement for extra-curricular activities designed for professional development. And when it comes to rewarding and recognizing individual achievements, Apptio has implemented the Superstar Award Program where two superstars are picked by their peers every six weeks to receive a cash bonus award plus eligibility for the yearly Superstar Award, part of which is an all-expense-paid vacation for two. Apptio also offers many cool perks, including $2,500 referral bonuses and events throughout the year featuring free food and drinks.
Recognized as a company that uses breakthrough technologies to build state-of-the-art products in the fields of laboratory automation, medical devices, and consumer electronics, Synapse has emerged as a very cool place to work. In their newly remodeled office in downtown Seattle, employees enjoy a relaxed atmosphere that shuns cubicles and encourages open communication and collaboration. An indoor rock-climbing wall, plus foosball, and pool tables stand ready to provide interaction and healthy competition during brief downtimes—not to mention a fleet of Razor scooters and an arsenal of Lazer Tag guns. Aside from offering generous perks and benefits, Synapse is committed to preserving a cool corporate culture that emphasizes work/life balance and recognizes and rewards individual and team achievements.
Imagine a company that took simple GPS technology and transformed it into a high-tech treasure hunting game to the delight of thousands of adventure seekers all over the world, and you’ve just described a very cool company called Groundspeak. Collectively referred to as “lackeys”, employees and founders alike enjoy working in an attractively appointed corporate office with a relaxed and casual atmosphere. As for perks, there are plenty, including 24 annual days off, free lift tickets for nearby skiing and snowboarding, Xbox access, fully stocked fridges, Friday night poker games, catered meals, generous bonuses, and great health benefits. For a company that specializes in finding things, Groundspeak has found a winning formula for attracting great employees.
Describing itself as a small company with a collaborative culture working to transform the real-estate industry, Zillow is another Seattle-based company with a cool corporate presence. Recognizing the importance of each employee, Zillow prides itself in a casual work environment where employees have a free voice in the collaborative process. Along with competitive compensation and benefits, Zillow also provides its employees free beverages, a casual dress code, on-site games, and regularly scheduled social events. And the twice yearly “hack weeks”, during which employees can work on whatever projects they can dream up are a huge hit.
Known as a company that keeps its customers happy, Amazon also recognizes the importance of doing the same for its employees. And the company’s new South Lake Union campus in Seattle is considered a very cool place to work. The benefits are excellent and individual performance is rewarded with monetary bonuses. According to employee surveys Amazon encourages career advancement and offers many opportunities to succeed. Driven by innovation and creativity, the company is flexible with its workforce and offers many the opportunity to work from home. Amazon also shows appreciation for its employees by hosting a number of special events and concerts throughout the year.
Of course there are other cool companies in Seattle. But this list of standouts is meant to provide a clearer picture for those who aspire to make their companies cooler and more desirable to work for.