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Chef secures $40m spending round as enterprise DevOps adoption soars

Automation software supplier Chef dismisses buyout talk after sharing details of latest funding round

Automation software supplier Chef has ruled itself out of becoming an acquisition target, after securing series E funding from venture capitalists totalling $40m.

The funding round was led by venture capital firm DFJ Growth and HP Ventures, along with existing investors Battery Ventures, Citi Ventures, Ignition Partners and Scale VP.

Speaking to Computer Weekly, Barry Crist, CEO of Chef, said the firm will use some of the money to accelerate its European expansion plans, as it seeks to tap into the continent’s appetite for DevOps.

“The best time to raise money is when you don’t need it. We had much of the series D from our last round still in the bank and business is growing. So it’s very good time for the company, as 2015 will be a record year, in terms of revenue and partnerships,” he said.

“There is something I have to pay attention to and that is the rate of growth. What we’re seeing, as Chef is growing and getting larger, is our growth rate is accelerating. It’s very difficult. As companies get larger, usually they find their growth rate slows, but we’re finding the opposite.”

To deal with this in the long term, Crist said embarking on an initial public offering (IPO) is an option it may be willing to entertain in the future.

“We’ve very focused on not being an acquisition candidate right now, and it would be my expectation that Chef would enter the public market at some point, although we’re not feeling under any pressure at the moment to do so,” he explained. 

“We very much want to focus on building a great company, taking care of our customers and continuing to drive the partnerships we have.”

The company’s automation platform allows developers to reduce their reliance on manual processes, during the creation and deployment of new pieces of software code, to eradicate bugs. It also allows the code development processes to be repeated with ease for testing purposes.

For these reasons, the technology has been keenly adopted by companies looking to tap into the DevOps software delivery trend, which favours the creation, deployment and testing of code in short development cycles.

Chef user group expands

To date, the technology has been adopted by Etsy, Facebook, GE, Target, Bloomberg, Gap, IBM and Yahoo. Chef claims that more than half of the Fortune 50 are using it.

In adoption terms, Crist said the technology is being used by a mix of enterprises, startups and smaller firms. The funding will help ensure it has the capacity and manpower to cope with the varied commercial needs of this diverse group of users across the world.

 “We’ve started to invest more heavily in Asia, including China, which has traditionally been a difficult place for US enterprise software companies, and one of our fastest-growing markets is Africa,” he said.

Read more about DevOps

The topic of DevOps has dominated discussions at many of the major IT conferences this year, with suppliers and analysts lining up to warn enterprises about the business risks of failing to adopt a more agile approach to software development.

Jon Cowie, operations engineer at online marketplace Etsy, advises enterprises on how to develop a DevOps-friendly business culture.

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