The five finalists for CEO of the Year in the 2023 Startup Awards are taking on a broad and important range of challenges: workplace equity; machine learning and AI creation; identification and tracking; immigration application processes; and fending off bots.
But if they have one thing in common, it’s that they are growing their companies at a time when the broader tech economy is contracting.
The candidates for CEO of the Year are: Chris Diorio of Impinj; François Locoh-Donou of F5; Luis Ceze of OctoML; Maria Colacurcio of Syndio; and Xiao Wang of Boundless.
This category recognizes CEOs of Pacific Northwest technology companies with more than 100 employees. (The Startup CEO of the Year category recognizes CEOs of companies with 100 employees or fewer.)
Last year’s winner of CEO of the Year was Anoop Gupta, co-founder and CEO of SeekOut, the AI-powered recruiting startup which landed $115 million last year and saw its valuation surpass $1 billion.
The Startup Awards recognize the top innovators and companies in Pacific Northwest technology. Finalists in this category and others were selected based on community nominations, along with input from Startup Awards judges. Community voting across all categories will continue until May 1, combined with feedback from judges to determine the winner in each category.
We’ll announce the winners on May 18 at the Startup Awards, presented by Astound Business Solutions. There are a limited number of table sponsorships available to attend the event. Contact our events team at email@example.com for more information.
Submit your votes below and keep scrolling for descriptions of each finalist for CEO of the Year, presented by RSM.
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Chris Diorio, CEO of Impinj
Diorio founded Impinj in 2000 while teaching at the University of Washington. He served as CTO before stepping into the CEO role in 2014. Impinj went public in 2016.
The manufacturer of radio-frequency identification devices and software reported revenue of $76.6 million in the fourth quarter, up 46% from the year-ago period. In November, Impinj introduced new tag chips, which work with automotive parts, pharmaceuticals and food products.
Diorio also serves as an affiliate professor of computer science and engineering at the UW.
François Locoh-Donou, CEO of F5 Networks
Locoh-Donou joined F5 as president and CEO in 2017 after serving in various executive roles at telecommunications equipment and software supplier Ciena.
He has helped steer F5 beyond its roots as a hardware company, expanding into application security and delivery software through multiple acquisitions. The Seattle company reported revenue of $2.7 billion for its 2022 fiscal year, a jump of 3%.
Locoh-Donou also serves as the co-founder and chairman of Cajou Espoir, a cashew processing plant in Africa.
Luis Ceze, CEO of OctoML
Ceze, a longtime professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington, helped launch OctoML in 2019. The UW spinout uses machine learning to help enterprises build their own machine learning and AI models and applications.
The company, a finalist for Next Tech Titan at the 2022 Startup Awards, has raised more than $132 million.
Ceze sold his last startup Corensic, a debugging software platform, to F5 in 2012. He is a venture partner at Madrona Venture Group.
Maria Colacurcio, CEO of Syndio
Colacurcio, a longtime tech vet who previously co-founded workplace collaboration giant Smartsheet, joined Syndio as CEO in 2018. Syndio’s software is used by companies to analyze and resolve pay equity issues due to gender, race or other comparisons, and to provide strategies for fixing those disparities.
The startup won Startup’s Elevator Pitch competition in 2019 and has raised more than $83 million to date. Syndio last month announced a partnership with Lumen. Other customers include Salesforce, Databricks, and the University of California, Irvine.
Xiao Wang, CEO of Boundless Immigration
A former Amazon senior product manager, Wang immigrated to the U.S. from China at 3 years old, and went on to earn degrees from Stanford and Harvard Business School.
Wang helped launch Boundless in 2017. The Seattle startup, spun out of Pioneer Square Labs, offers software and services to streamline the immigration process. As of March, there were 388,908 cases in the U.S. immigrant visa backlog. There has also been questions and concern over H-1B visas for workers and their families amid widespread tech layoffs.
Boundless raised $25 million in April 2021 in its latest funding round.
Thanks to gold-level and category sponsors: Wilson Sonsini, JLL, Blink, BECU, Baird, Fuel Talent, RSM, Talent Reach, WTIA, Meridian Capital, Bank of America, and T-Mobile. And thanks to silver level sponsors: First Tech, Remitly, Fuel Talent, and SolluCIO Partners.
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