San Francisco is teeming with programmers, designers, and innovative thinkers. So it's little wonder the Bay Area is also home to so many fast-growing Inc. 5000 companies--129 this year. While you can surely draw comparisons with fictional tech companies like Pied Piper from the HBO series Silicon Valley, the 10 companies listed below are anything but comical. With a collective three-year revenue growth rate of 45,338 percent in 2014, indeed a more apt description would be formidable. Here are this year's shining stars of the Golden Gate City.
Founders Jessica Mah and Andy Su know that one of the most challenging tasks for entrepreneurs is wrangling finances while running day-to-day operations. So in 2010, they founded inDinero--a software platform to help small businesses manage taxes, accounting, and payroll all in one place. So far so good. The company saw its annual revenue jump 2,700 percent to nearly $2.9 million in 2014 from 2011. Also over the period, its staff grew to 100 from just two people in 2011.
Like other software companies, seven-year-old AlphaSense benefits from proximity to the technology talent and academic innovation the Bay Area provides. "People you hire here really have startups and technology running in their veins, which creates a thrilling environment to live and work in," says CEO Jack Kokko, who moved from Finland in 2000. He says he may never leave. "Many on our team were born here while others, like myself, have sought this place out, and we all feel like we belong here all the same." And it certainly does seem that employees and customers alike are sticking around. In 2014, AlphaSense employed 34 people--up from 11 in 2011--and had revenue of $3.6 milion, up 3,300 percent from 2011.
8. Bizness Apps
CEO Andrew Gazdecki describes Bizness Apps' work culture as "fun, hard working, and a little weird." On top of building apps for small businesses, the five-year-old company's 70 employees volunteer with Reading Partners every week. There they read with students who are falling behind, aiming to do their part to contribute to a city with increasing standard-of-living disparities. Once a quarter, the company tries to engage in a fun activity outside the office. In June, there was San Francisco's city-wide scavenger hunt. The office also boasts an arcade, mini putt golf, an N64 game room, a fully stocked snack room, and foosball. Oh, and lest we forget, the company's revenue grew nearly 3,700 percent since 2011 to $7.6 million in 2014.
7. Prosper Marketplace
As one of the first peer-to-peer lending marketplaces, the 10-year-old company has facilited more than $4 billion in loans. This year marks Prosper's second appearance on the Inc. 5000, with a three-year revenue growth rate of 3,684 percent between 2011 and 2014. Its staff also quadrupled to 232 over the period.
6. 6 Pack Fitness
Setting out to revamp the ugly old lunchbox for all gym-goers, 6 Pack Fitness has grown a lot in its short four years. Revenue is up 3,733 percent to nearly $11.5 million in 2014 from 2011, as the company has expanded its product offerings to include duffel bags, briefcases, backpacks, and other accessories. 6 Pack Fitness credits much of its success to its roster of fitness professionals and athletes, who serve as ambassadors to test out and spread the word about its bags.
Founded in 2009, AppDirect provides an e-commerce platform for business software. Its product is completely cloud based, which is fitting, since the company’s headquarters, located just down the street from its birthplace in a downtown apartment, boasts inspiring views of the Bay, Alcatraz, Coit Tower, and the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges. The company hosts an annual Partner Summit to coincide with America's Cup or Fleet Week to maximize the enjoyment of the city for the hundreds of their closest partners, innovators, and visionaries who flock to the city. Clearly, showing business partners a good time in the Golden Gate City is working out for the company--AppDirect posted more than $18 million in revenue in 2014, which is up 4,000 percent since 2011.
4. Social Print Studio
In 2012, printing photos from Instagram was Social Print Studio’s biggest revenue source, so the five-year-old company relocated to the Bay Area from San Diego to be closer to the social media site's most active users. Now, the company can be found working its product, the Live Instagram Printer, at Silicon Valley corporate events, AT&T Park, and soon in a food-truck-like vehicle that will allow 'grammers to print pics straight from whatever event they attend. Artists-in-residence can be found at the office and, embracing the racy nature of nearby Folsom Street, the company jokes that it keeps a few leather accessories around the office in case management needs to whip anyone into shape. In 2014, Social Print Studio raked in $6.4 million in revenue--up 4,200 percent since 2011.
Since its start in 2009, Ampush--like its co-founder and CEO Jesse Pujji--has been all about learning by doing and taking action over hestitation. With his two co-founders, Pujji saw the company's revenue grow almost 4,400 percent to $15.2 million from 2011 to 2014. It also grew to 130 employees from 20 over the same period. The bootstrapped marketing software company is headquartered in San Francisco's desirable SoMa district and also has an office in New York City.
In keeping with the company’s wearable technology, Fitbit has built physical fitness into daily life for its employees, which numbered 579 at the end of 2014. "Work Out Wednesdays" and healthy snacks keep employees happy and productive in a city with no shortage of tech talent. And that's also helped the eight-year-old company’s revenue grow by more than 5,000 percent between 2011 and 2014--to $745 million. The fitness wearables company raised $66 million in venture capital before it went public in June, and now has offices in eight other cities, including Boston, Dublin, and Shanghai.
Victoria Tsai, founder of this geisha-inspired beauty products company, says she couldn’t imagine starting Tatcha in any other city. With close ties to Kyoto, San Francisco inspires the Tatcha team, letting them experience Japanese culture like the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, the Peace Lantern Ceremony, and Japanese food festivals. In the early days--the company was founded in 2009--employees worked from Tsai's dining room table, and even though the company has moved to a real office--a former gay club complete with disco ball--employees say they still feel like a family. Their office has a lactation room, and during the busy holiday season, children, friends, and grandparents all chip in to pack and ship boxes. Keeping it in the family must be working, since the company's revenue grew to $12 million in 2014, up almost 11,000 percent over the previous three years.