The Best and Worst of Business 2009

Remembering the good news and bad in a year we won’t forget.
By Leslie D. Helm, Chris Winters, Talia Schmidt, Kate Vesper, David Volk, Randy Woods, Elizabeth Economou and Art Thiel |   December 2009   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION
Illustrations by Mark Brewer

have been acquired." —Randy Woods

The Alliance of Angels and Dan Rosen's Investment Success Stories

  • SnapIn Software
  • OnRequest Images
  • Neah Power Systems
  • Pacific Bioscience Laboratories
  • Insitu
  • CleverSet
  • Shelfari
  • The Coffee Equipment Co.

Photo by Kyle Johnson

Best Business to Be in in a Post-Cash Economy: Bartering for Luxury Cars

BarteringIf your company can't give you a raise, would you settle for a $100,000 Audi instead? Seattle-based BizXchange can help you out. That's what the business bartering service did this year for a cash-strapped media company that wanted to reward its employees.

"We help companies pay for products and services they need without having to use cash," says BizX president and CEO Bob Bagga. "Smart business owners want to save money, whether the economy is booming or shrinking."

Under Bagga's supervision, Al Nabooda Automobiles, a Porsche dealership in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, exchanged 25 Audis (each with a sticker price of about $100,000) for unspecified media services from Dubai-based Arab Media Group. The transaction, worth about $2.2 million, was the most highly valued deal of the year on BizX.

With more than 2,000 existing members in its system, BizX allows companies to register online and indirectly exchange services with other businesses. Barter transactions between BizX members grew at an average of 32 percent per quarter during the first three quarters of 2009, and revenue is up 54 percent from the same period last year, Bagga notes.

Bagga says the most common exchanges in BizX come from real estate companies, media groups and the entertainment industry. He has watched some people pay for all or part of their homes and even witnessed an exchange for plastic surgery. —Talia Schmidt


Best Startup and Startup Executive: Seattle Sounders FC and Tod Leiweke, CEO, Vulcan Sports and Entertainment

Tod LiewekeFlying in the face of the gnarliest recession in decades came the Major League Soccer expansion team Seattle Sounders FC, scarves held high and expectations guardedly low. Selling out every home game at Qwest Field, the Sounders have confounded fútbol skeptics and local economic analysts. While credit goes to many, none is more central to the caper than Tod Leiweke, CEO of Vulcan Sports and Entertainment, Paul Allen's amusement park that also includes the NFL Seahawks and NBA Portland Trail Blazers. Leiweke helped Allen fulfill a promise from 12 years earlier when Allen told statewide voters that if they

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