26 Enterprise Startups To Bet Your Career On In 2015

Every year, we survey the field of startups selling their wares to businesses to find the ones we think are sure-fire winners.

These are companies with great technology, great leadership, massive investor backing, or tons of partnerships and industry attention. Or all the above.

Enterprise has become a hot area for startups in the last year or two. We actually had difficulty narrowing our list down to these select few.

Mixpanel: Watching your website

Mixpanel's founders Suhail Doshi (right) and Tim Trefren

Company name: Mixpanel
Headquarters: San Francisco
Investment raised to date: $US77 million

Mixpanel grew hot in 2013 by helping companies figure out what website visitors were doing, and has been growing like crazy ever since.

Today it counts nearly 3,000 companies as customers, including Uber and Airbnb, and is backed by Andreessen Horowitz, early Yelp and PayPal exec Max Levchin, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, and Yammer founder David Sacks. In December, it raised a $US65 million round in that valued the company at $US865 million.

Zenefits: Hottest employer in the Valley

David Sacks

Company name: Zenefits
Headquarters: San Francisco
Investment raised to date: $US83.6 million

83.6#sthash.Df3Vk5Da.dpuf
Two-year old Zenefits has become the hottest employer in the Valley. It's causing chaos in the insurance and HR software industry by giving away cloud human resources software for free, making money as an insurance broker instead.

It's on track to grow its user base 1,600% this year and is so hot that PayPal Mafia angel investor David Sacks (who sold his last company, Yammer, to Microsoft for $US1.2 billion) not only invested in Zenefits, but signed on to work as its new COO.

DigitalOcean: Taking the web hosting world by storm

DigitalOcean co-founders Ben Uretsky, Moisey Uretsky, Mitch Wainer

Company name: DigitalOcean
Headquarters: New York
Investment raised to date: $US90.2 million

Cloud hosting startup DigitalOcean has grown extraordinarily fast in 2014. In 2010, they had about 100 computers on the web, and by January 2015, had grown to more 132,000 computers, making it the 3rd biggest web hosting company in the world, according to a site that tracks such things, Netcraft. They have about 380,000 customers.

Two of the co-founders are brothers who met their third co-founder by a help wanted ad on Craigslist.

Couchbase: The wonderful world of big data databases

Couchbase CEO Couchbase

Company name: Couchbase
Headquarters: Mountain View, CA
Investment raised to date: $US116 million

116 Million
Couchbase makes a kind of database called 'noSQL' that is particularly good at storing the kind of data used in big data and cloud computing applications. As those technologies grow more popular, Couchbase has been riding the wave, doubling its revenues in 2014, and landing many multi-million deals, it says.

Its customers include AOL, Cisco, eBay, PayPal, Disney, Nielsen, Nordstrom, Wells Fargo and many others.

Docker: From nowhere to everywhere in an instant

Docker Founder and CTO Solomon Hykes

Company name: Docker
Headquarters: San Francisco
Investment raised to date: $US55 million

In less than two years, Docker went from a tiny side project built by Solomon Hykes and a couple of his friends to a worldwide phenom, with names like Amazon, Microsoft, VMware, Dell, HP, and Red Hat knocking on his door, begging to to be his partner.

Docker is in a relatively new area called 'container' technology, which makes it easier for programmers and companies to launch and runs apps in the cloud. Hykes nervously showed it during a developer conference and it took off like a runaway train from there.

Docker has now been downloaded 100+ million times and is used by companies like eBay, Baidu, Yelp, and Spotify. And competitors are starting to sprout up to challenge it, including Google.

CoreOS: Making waves in the data center

Alex Polvi founder, CoreOS

Company name: CoreOS
Headquarters: San Francisco
Investment raised to date: $US8 million

Alex Polvi launched CoreOS in 2013 to make computer software for huge cloud data centres. (He sold his first startup, Cloudkick, for about $US30 million when he was 25.)

In 2014 CoreOS made waves by taking on its former close partner, Docker, and released a competing technology called Rocker.

Now there's an all-out battle on for control of this new hot new tech for developers called 'containers' and CoreOS is right in the middle.

Nutanix: Investors won't stop investing

Dheeraj Pandey co-founder and CEO Nutanix

Company name: Nutanix
Headquarters: San Jose, CA
Investment raised to date: $US312.2 million

Nutanix makes a device that has radically changed the enterprise storage market. To add more storage, you just plug together more of these devices. They include computers and software that makes them all work together like one big disk drive. It's an almost painless way to deal with growing amounts of data.

Investors can't pour money on this company fast enough. A year ago, it raised $US101 million and was valued over $US1 billion. In December, it raised another $US140 million, valued at $US2 billion. Next stop: IPO.

Huddle: One of the hottest startups in London

Huddle co-founder Alistair Mitchell sailing

Company name: Huddle
Headquarters: London
Investment raised to date: $US89.2 million

Huddle is London's hottest enterprise startup, a cloud service that competes with Box and lets workers share documents and work together. In December it raised $US51 million, which, by UK standards, was considered a massive sum.

It also just hired a new CEO, with its charismatic founder CEO Alastair Mitchell moving into the CMO role. While Huddle insists it's focused on growth, not going public, all signs point to an IPO sooner rather than later.

Interana: Bringing Facebook-like technology to the world

Interana co-founders Bobby and Ann Johnson and their kids at the office

Company name: Interana
Headquarters: Menlo Park, CA
Investment raised to date: $US28.2 million

Interana was founded by two former Facebook-ers who created some of Facebook most popular data analysis tools, Bobby Johnson and Lior Abraham. They are famous in the big data world for creating the open source tools known as Scribe and Haystack.

When the time came to launch their own startup, Johnson convinced his wife, Ann Johnson, a former electrical engineer at Intel, to be their CEO.

Their mission is to do for every enterprise what Facebook did for friendships: analyse billions of events in seconds to bring you the relevant info.

They just raised $US20 million from investors like AME Cloud Ventures (Jerry Yang), Harris Barton, and Cloudera's Mike Olson, among others.

HasMetrics: A great idea with a lot of promise

HasMetrics CEO Adam Herscher

Company name: HasMetrics
Headquarters: Seattle
Investment raised to date: Bootstrapped

Adam Herscher's deeply personal story about leaving a prestigious, high-paying job at Microsoft to found a startup called HasMetrics went viral in the fall.

But he had good reason to leave.

He and co-founder Sean Andersen are working on a technology that could turn customer service from a painful overhead expense into something that helps the company generate new products and land new customers.

Although not yet out of stealth yet, we understand the company already has some alpha testers and so far, so good.

Illumio: A new way to secure your data in the cloud

Illumio CEO Andrew Rubin

Company name: Illumio
Headquarters: Sunnyvale, Calif.
Investment raised to date: $US42.5 million

Illumio is a computer security startup with a product so radical, it raised $US42.5 million from a who's who of investors before it even came out of stealth mode.

In October it finally launched, showing the world a new way to secure your documents, keeping them safe as they move from device to cloud to cloud.

In Novemver, it landed Microsoft chairman John Thompson as a board member.

Thompson is an icon in the computer security world, having previously led Symantec for 10 years. (For the past five years, he's been CEO of cloud startup called Virtual Instruments.)

Tidemark: Making it easy to understand your business

Tidemark CEO Christian Gheorghe

Company name: Tidemark
Headquarters: Redwood City, CA
Investment raised to date: $US93.4 million

Tidemark is a closely watched company tackling the relatively new field of 'big data for finance geeks.' It makes an app that lets business managers type in questions in ordinary language ('what was the worst performing items in the forth quarter?') and the app delivers charts and graphs to a tablet or smartphone.

It was founded by Christian Gheorghe, who's personal rags-to-riches story is an inspiration. Tidemark is his fourth startup. He sold all of his previous startups and is well-known in the enterprise software world.

Anaplan: Killing Excel with a cloud app

Anaplan CEO Frederic Laluyaux

Company name: Anaplan
Headquarters: San Francisco
Investment raised to date: $US144.4 million

Anaplan sells cloud financial analysis software that takes on SAP and makes Excel obsolete for financial planning.

In May, it raised $US100 million on an over $US1 billion valuation, after reporting phenomenal growth: from generating about $US10 million in all of 2012, to $US10 million per quarter in 2013, to about $US10 million per month as of January 2014.

Human-resources cloud company Workday was one of the investors in the round, as was Salesforce.

Qualtrics: A family-run business that's going gangbusters

Ryan Smith, CEO, Qualtrics

Company name: Qualtrics
Headquarters: Provo, UT
Investment raised to date: $US220 million

In September, Qualtrics raised a whopping $US150 million second round of venture investment and was worth over $US1 billion.

It was a moment of pure victory for CEO Ryan Smith. A couple of years ago, Smith had turned down a $US500 million acquisition offer. Qualtrics had bootstrapped its way into a profitable $US50 million company at the time and he wanted to grow the company himself.

Since then, revenues have grown to 'over $US100 million,' he told Business Insider, and he's well on his way.

Pluribus: A new way to build networks that its customers love

Kumar Srikantan CEO Pluribus

Company name: Pluribus Networks
Headquarters: Palo Alto, CA
Investment raised to date: $US92.8 million

Pluribus is a startup in the software-defined networking field, a new way to build corporate networks. It just landed a hefty $US50 million in venture investment, making it one of the best funded SDN startups ever.

There was a rush to buy SDN startups in 2012 and 2013.

When Pluribus went shopping for another round of capital, Valley VCs showed little interest, thinking the gold rush on SDN was over. So CEO Kumar Srikantan and board member Jerry Yang called up customers and resellers of the equipment, particularly in China and they ponied up big time.

When your customers and sales partners want to be investors, that's a very good sign.

Puppet Labs: Making IT departments run faster, better

Puppet Labs founder, CEO Luke Kanies

Company name: Puppet Labs
Headquarters: Portland
Investment raised to date: $US85.5 million

Puppet Labs is one a handful of companies leading a new trend called 'devops.' That's a movement to let developers control how they launch and run the applications they build for companies, rather than relying on IT departments to do it.

Puppet Labs offers software that automates many IT tasks. Its founder CEO, Luke Kanies, created the software after he had a career as a system administrator and knew the pain of the job first-hand.

Although Kaines is now running a multi-million company, he's still a humble, hard-working guy. Meanwhile, Cisco, Google and other big names have invested in his company, including a new $US40 million round in June.

Chef: Beloved by the IT people who use it

Chef CEO Barry Crist

Company name: Chef
Headquarters: Seattle
Investment raised to date: $US65 million

Chef is another closely-watched startup in the field called 'devops' which helps companies launch applications more efficiently.

Chef makes a popular open source tool for automating many tasks that IT administrators do, letting developers reclaim control over how their apps launch and run.

Chef is growing so fast, it plans to double in size in 2015, growing from 200 employees today to 400 by the end of 2015 at its new Seattle headquarters.

CloudFlare: mind bogging growth making computers more secure

CloudFlare CEO Matthew Prince

Company name: CloudFlare
Headquarters: San Francisco
Investment raised to date: $US72.1 million

CloudFlare is another startup that made this list because of its mind-boggling growth in 2014. It offers cloud-based computer security and content-delivery services.

It was worth over $US1 billion at the end of 2013 and its growth continued to astound through 2014.

As of August, the company was growing 450% annually, adding about 5,000 new clients a day, Matthew Prince, its programmer/lawyer-turned-founder, told us.

SkyHigh Networks: A way to discover when employees sneak in cloud services

Skyhigh Networks CEO Rajiv Gupta

Company name: SkyHigh Networks
Headquarters: Cupertino, CA
Investment raised to date: $US66.5 million

Skyhigh Networks launched its service in February 2013 and investors were tripping over themselves to invest. It raised $US60 million between May 2013, and June 2013.

Skyhigh offers a service that lets IT administrators uncover and secure all the cloud services its employees are using. About a year after launch, it had over 200 enterprises customers.

It also helps that CEO co-founder CEO Rajiv Gupta and engineering leader and cofounder Sekhar Sarukkai have done two previous startups together, successfully selling both of them.

Centrify: Curing the headache of password management

Centrify CEO Tom Kemp

Company name: Centrify
Headquarters: Santa Clara, CA
Investment raised to date: $US94 million

In May, enterprise security startup Centrify nabbed a $US42 million venture investment from Samsung Ventures, and others. Centrify makes enterprise security software and a cloud service that manages employee passwords.

At the end of 2015, Centrify reported a banner year: 5,000 customers worldwide, 400 employees, and many new partnerships.

If there's one thing that all the security breaches of 2014 taught us, it's that passwords are important.

OpenDNS: A unique way to spy what the bad-buy hackers are doing

OpenDNS CEO David Ulevitch

Company name: OpenDNS
Headquarters: San Francisco
Investment raised to date: $US51.3 million
$US51.3 Million
2014 was a year of sweet retribution for OpenDNS's young CEO founder David Ulevitch. When the company was two years old, his investors ousted him from the CEO job. He stuck it out at the company, bought them out, and got his company back.

In 2014 he raised $US35 million investment from his new investors, including Cisco and other big names.

OpenDNS is best known for its service that helps computers securely connect to the Internet. But it's grabbing attention for its ability to watch the whole internet, see where the bad guys have infected the web, and predicts where the bad guys will strike next.

DataGravity: Making expensive computer storage systems smarter

Paula Long, CEO DataGravity

Company name: DataGravity
Headquarters: Nashua, NH
Investment raised to date: $US92 million

The co-founders of DataGravity sold their first startup, EqualLogic, to Dell in 2008 for $US1.4 billion.

DataGravity is run CEO Paula Long, one of the most successful female engineers in the tech industry.

Her team invented a new kind of smart computer storage system. Not only can it store, retrieve, and protect files, but it can show you insights about your business, too, such as who are the experts at the company on certain topics.

It raised $US42 million before it came out of stealth and another $US50 million in December.

Jasper: Right in the middle of the Internet of Things

Jasper CEO Jahangir Mohammed

Company name: Jasper Technologies
Headquarters: Mountain View, CA
Investment raised to date: $US205.3 million

Jasper offers a cloud service for the up-and-coming new technology called the 'Internet of Things.' IoT is when ordinary objects get a computer chip and join the Internet.

Since launching in 2004, Jasper has landed more than 1,600 enterprise and lays claim to customers like Air Liquide, Audi, Ford, Garmin, GE, GM, many more. In 2014, it raised $US50 million on a $US1 billion+ valuation, the WSJ reported.

It is rumoured to be looking at an IPO, maybe as soon as later this year.

Lynda.com: Online video training courses that busy professionals love

Lynda.com co-founder Lynda Weinman

Company name: Lynda.com
Headquarters: Carpinteria, CA
Investment raised to date: $US289 Million

Lynda.com offers online training videos that teach tech skills, business skills, design and more. It counts more than half the Fortune 500 as customers.

For a monthly fee of $US25-$US38 a month, you get unlimited access to nearly 6,000 training videos.

Lynda.com earned $US150 million in revenue in 2014, and has been profitable since 1997. The company just raised a massive $US186 million earlier this month, the largest ed tech financing deal in the last six years, the New York Times reports. This is on top the $US103 million it raised in its first-ever venture investment just a year earlier.

The company gets its name from co-founder and executive chairman Lynda Weinman, who worked as an instructor at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., before launching her company.

Xamarin: Bringing Windows apps to iOS and Android

Miguel de Icaza, cofounder Xamarin

Company name: Xamarin
Headquarters: San Francisco
Investment raised to date: $US82 million

Xamarin lets Microsoft developers easily move their apps over to iOS and Android. In 2013, Microsoft announced a landmark partnership with Xamarin and its rock-star open source developer Miguel de Icaza.

The two had a historically rocky history. In 2000, de Icaza brought Microsoft's popular web development language (.Net) to the company's hated rival operating system, Linux.

Flash forward about 15 years and Xamarin had collected a following of over 900,000 developers in 70 countries and has an excellent relationship with Microsoft.

de Icaza even used an iPhone on stage during Microsoft's 2014 developer's conference.

That partnership helped Xamarin land a $US54 million round of venture investment summer.

Now take a look at some of the hottest public enterprise IT companies ...

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