Chef cutting 10 jobs amid ongoing shift to new application-focused product strategy

(Chef Photo)

Seattle’s Chef is eliminating ten jobs as it reorganizes the company around the ongoing shift to cloud computing, GeekWire has learned.

The ten positions involve a variety of roles across the company and are not related to any one specific product, said Barry Crist, CEO of Chef, in an interview. Kimberly Martin, senior vice president for business development, will also leave the company at the end of January in a move unrelated to the reorganization, he said.

Crist said Chef plans to increase its investment in other areas of its business, and that Chef has been generating cash in the second half of 2018. The company will set a record for revenue this year (the company is not disclosing actual numbers), and “we’re under no pressure to need to raise capital,” he said.

Barry Crist, CEO, Chef (Chef Photo)

While you might not call it a true “pivot,” Chef has been changing direction for the last few years as the acceleration of cloud computing and containers has reduced the need for some of the earlier software-development tools that got the company off the ground. GeekWire reported that it laid off seven people in 2016, less than a year after it raised its last round of $40 million in funding, and several executives have departed since then.

Chef has responded by adding compliance features to its flagship Automate tool, which helps companies manage the chaotic process of making sure their software conforms to laws and regulations around the world. This is a hot space in the wake of Europe’s GDPR regulations, with Seattle-area startups like Shujinko and HyperProof launching in recent months around the same concept.

Automate was originally designed to help customers deploy applications on their own infrastructure, but those capabilities are often baked into the container-management services that companies around the world are adopting in greater and greater fashion. Lots of companies still use Chef to manage their software development practices, but growth in the market has shifted to other areas, and when you’ve raised $105 million that means it’s time for some new thinking.

It’s been an interesting few weeks for companies in and around cloud computing, with deals as large as IBM’s $36 billion purchase of Red Hat and SAP’s $8 billion deal for Qualtrics coming alongside smaller ones like VMware’s acquisition of Chef’s fellow Seattle startup Heptio.

Crist declined to comment on specific overtures he might have received over the last few months, but acknowledged “it’s an active time.”

“We have a large market opportunity and a fantastic brand,” Crist said. “I want Chef to be a long-term standalone company.”

[Editor’s note: This post was updated to clarify Chef’s cash-flow status.]

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