2018 Tech Impact Awards, SaaS: Avalara

Plus: Silver Award winner Skilljar
| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

This article appears in print in the October 2018 issue. See more about the winners of the 2018 Tech Impact Awards hereClick here for a free subscription.

Avalara
Location: Seattle
Employees: 450

Transaction taxes, notes Avalara’s cofounder and CEO, Scott McFarlane, built ancient Egypt. Anger over them founded the United States. Yet compliance across the more than 12,000 U.S. taxing jurisdictions is a complex challenge that, he notes, “is the last business process to be automated in the magic moment of commerce.”

Avalara provides sales tax automation software to more than 20,000 customers, helping them calculate, collect and remit transaction taxes. Its cloud-based systems securely manage 17 million compliance documents through helpful tools designed for retailers, distributors and e-commerce companies.

As with payroll tax compliance, McFarlane notes, “Most people assume this has been solved.” 

Cofounder Rory Rawlings was a CPA who recognized that a central service was needed. He and McFarlane teamed with Jared Vogt to develop a cloud-based service that could be available to businesses of any size. Since its founding in 2004 on Bainbridge Island, Avalara has grown through a series of acquisitions and expansion of service. This year, it consolidated offices to a new tower near CenturyLink Field and launched a successful $180 million IPO that saw shares rocket 87 percent from their initial offering price.

For McFarlane, it affirms that “we know where this is going and will continue to grow into a really big market.” 

Silver Award

Skilljar
Location: Seattle
Employees: 40

You can lead customers to training, but you can’t make them think. Skilljar was founded in 2013 by a pair of Amazon veterans whose experience trying to train Amazon Marketplace sellers convinced them a better way was needed. Its data-driven customer training experiences report accelerating customer onboarding time by as much as 90 percent. Other features include payment services, analytics of user behavior and integration with Salesforce and Marketo for generating leads. After tripling the number of customers each year, Skilljar recently closed a $16.4 million funding round to fuel growth in an industry estimated at $12 billion annually.

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