The Crowd Has Spoken: Check Out The Coolest US Tech Companies

What American tech company is the coolest? A subjective, yet important question. The rest of the country may be in a recession, but hiring within...

What American tech company is the coolest? A subjective, yet important question.

The rest of the country may be in a recession, but hiring within the tech community remains highly competitive. Talented employees look for a number of tangible and intangible factors when deciding among multiple employment offers, including a company's cool factor. As such, a reputation as a cool company is a competitive advantage to be cultivated and coveted.

With that in mind, Forbes readers have an opportunity to help crown America's Coolest Tech Company via a new crowdsource polling widget, created by Ranker, a Rincon Venture Partners' portfolio company.


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Like It Or Not, Cool Matters

About a decade ago, when Yahoo! was still cool (hey, they had an exclamation point as part of their name, how cool is that?), I recall speaking with then VP of Marketing, Karen Edwards, about Yahoo's success. She was adamant that one the primary reasons Yahoo beat its initial competitors, was because (paraphrasing), "Yahoo was the coolest company in Silicon Valley. If you were an A-player, you wanted to work for Yahoo." My how times change. Even so, the underlying sentiment of Karen's remarks remains true today. Cool matters.

How does one define a cool tech employer? Like beauty, it is largely in the eye of the beholder. One person's definition of cool might be great on-campus perks, such as free Red Bull and awesome munchies, Massage Mondays and being able to bring your pet to work. Another's person's "cool" might manifest itself in a flexible, autonomous work environment. A financially oriented person might consider an employee's monetary success as the ultimate arbiter of cool and thus vote up companies whose stock options have the greatest potential return. To others, coolness is all about a companies' products and innovations.

The great thing about a crowdsourced list is that it combines all of these disparate definitions into a gestalt whole because uber-cool companies deliver on multiple proxies of coolness.

Your Online Ballot

While this compilation is by no means definitive, most of the obvious tech companies are represented, as well as a smattering of up-and-comers. I avoided smaller startups because it is difficult to compare emerging ventures with companies comprised of thousands of employees.

Note as well that this list is focused on US tech companies. Sorry, rest of the world - I had to draw the line at America's border to keep the poll a manageable size. I also excluded companies that straddle both "tech" and "media."

In the spirit of the current election season, vote up or down the companies you think are cool / uncool. You don't need a photo ID nor do you need to register. Just click on the thumbs up or thumbs down icons to voice your opinion. Chicago voting rules apply, allowing you to cast as many votes as you like, as long as you only vote once for a particular company.

The Coolest Employers in Tech

Keep in mind that there are 77-companies represented on the list, so be sure to scroll down to review the entire ballot. If your browser is not cooperating or you prefer to access the list on Ranker's site, you can do so HERE.

Pitchforks And Torches

When you cast your votes, you may have noticed the large percentage of negative votes. This causes companies that have a polarizing effect to place in the middle of the pack, as its fans are offset by detractors. I initially found this surprising, but certainly understandable. One woman's cool is another woman's cool jerk.

The first rule of cool is to not act cool.  Like people, sometimes companies need to be brought down a peg, especially when they start to believe their press clippings. If you refrained from clicking on the thumbs down button, feel free to revisit the list and vent a little frustration by dinging a few cheeky companies. Trust me. The catharsis will feel good, allowing you to be a bit cooler during the remainder of your busy day.

Follow my startup-oriented Twitter feed here: @johngreathouse. I promise I will never tweet you about an uncool tech company or tell you about that killer burrito I just ate.

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John Greathouse is a Partner at Rincon Venture Partners, a venture capital firm investing in early stage, web-based businesses. Previously, John co-founded RevUpNet, a performance-based online marketing agency sold to Coull. During the prior twenty years, he held senior executive positions with several successful startups, spearheading transactions that generated more than $350 million of shareholder value, including an IPO and a multi-hundred-million-dollar acquisition.

John is a CPA and holds an M.B.A. from the Wharton School. He is a member of the University of California at Santa Barbara's Faculty where he teaches several entrepreneurial courses.

Note: All of my advice in this blog is that of a layman. I am not a lawyer and I never played one on TV. You should always assess the veracity of any third-party advice that might have far-reaching implications (be it legal, accounting, personnel, tax or otherwise) with your trusted professional of choice.

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