The 2015 Top 100 Digital Companies in Chicago

Sam Dewey

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Top 100 Companies Hiring


Built In Chicago proudly presents the 2015 list of the Top 100 Digital Technology Companies in Chicago. The list, which ranks digital tech employers based on local employee count, includes Chicago companies from a broad spectrum of verticals, growth stages, and zip codes.

Today, Chicago’s tech ecosystem employs more than 54,000 workers in the Chicagoland area — an increase of over 11 percent since our 2014 report. As the city’s technology and innovation economy begins to enter maturation, more than 3,200 digital companies now call the Second City home.

Related: Best Startups to Work for in Chicago

“Digital technology companies are continuing to grow and expand in the City of Chicago,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “The remarkable growth we are seeing with these innovative companies means more jobs today and an even stronger economic future.”


Companies on the rise

Companies like Solstice Mobile, Rise Interactive, Cofactor, SMS Assist, and GrubHub each climbed in ranking on the list, and many of 2014’s fastest-growing companies — like ContextMedia and Avant — also continued to thrive.

For Avant, an online loan provider that crossed the billion-dollar valuation line in September, a net increase of six positions may seem surprising, given the three-year-old startup’s well-reported growth. However, that spike alone represents the addition of nearly 250 new jobs in Chicago.

Related: The Coolest Tech Offices in Chicago

Illustrious entrepreneur Brad Keywell and his newest venture, Uptake, made a mammoth splash on the 2015 report. Uptake, a data analytics startup founded just last year, already reported a headcount of 300 local employees — a number large enough to skyrocket the company to tie VelocityEHS (formerly MSDSonline) for the 35th spot list. Keywell is also co-founder and director of both Groupon and Echo Global Logistics, which were listed at numbers one and eight, respectively.

“At Uptake, we’re moving fast and with purpose to execute on our vision to transform industry through the power of data,” said Uptake CEO Brad Keywell. "We’ve assembled an elite team from throughout the city and across the country to help us solve some of the world's hardest problems."

Growth isn’t limited to companies headquartered in Chicago, either. Sharing-economy champion Uber rose 45 spots this year, an increase larger than any other company returning to the list. San Francisco-based Salesforce also increased significantly in rank, climbing 11 spots to settle as Chicago’s 11th largest employer of digital tech workers.

One of Chicago’s most watched startups, Raise, has more than doubled in size since its inclusion in last year’s report. The digital marketplace for unused gift cards cards grew by 140 employees and rose 29 spots on the list. Raise CEO George Bousis said that growth is contributing to the ecosystem's overall success. 

"For the first time in retail history, consumers can leverage discounted credit immediately at the point of sale for their favorite brands," Bousis said. "We’re building new, emerging technology to transform consumers' spending behavior, and we’re looking forward to fueling growth in Chicago’s tech community.” 


Chicago by the numbers

Geographically, the Loop’s 60606 area code houses more top digital tech employers than any other section of the Chicagoland area. Meanwhile, the River North neighborhood plays home to the majority of the city’s younger startups and received the highest amount of funding (more than $740 million) over the past year.

Nine percent of companies represented in the top 100 were younger than five years old, while a solid 20 percent were founded before 1995. By sector, 35 percent of representatives were primarily software companies.


Startups to watch

There were a number of high-growth companies that narrowly missed inclusion on this year’s list. We predict that in 2016, companies like eshots, One North Interactive, Narrative Science, Hireology, SpotHero, SIM Partners, and Yello could emerge as major contenders for the list.

After an absence last year on the list, VISANOW — a Chicago-based provider of online immigration services — resurfaced, jumping over 20 spots in to land at number 77. Launched in 1998, the company today employs 140 people.

“We’re very proud of this recognition, which is reflective of our commitment to offering our employees a variety of learning and development opportunities as well as cultivating a transparent, supportive and empowering culture,” said Dick Burke, president and chief executive officer of VISANOW Inc. “The breadth and depth of our talent has us poised for strong long-term growth, which will allow us to continue to provide an extraordinary level of service to businesses and individuals navigating the arduous immigration process — both here in Chicago and nationwide.”

Infographic is sponsored by Brad Serot of CBRE.

Want to work at one of the Top 100 Digital Companies in Chicago? Check out their open jobs.

*Correction: UpRight Law was wrongfully omitted from this list. They currently have 121 employees. In addition, Fieldglass has 339 employees, not 280, and DRW has 450 employees rather than 375. We regret the errors. 

Full Disclosure: VISANOW CEO Dick Burke is a board member of Built In 


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Fred Snyder
What are the requirements for a company to appear on the list? I recently joined Accuity's software engineering team.

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