If you paid a visit to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ Sand Hill Road headquarters on any given day, you’d likely bump into Chi-Hua Chien. Chien, who has emerged as one of the firm’s most accessible public figures since joining Kleiner some six years ago, is known for being a particularly engaged and responsive VC — always ready to pop into the office, provide advice to an entrepreneur, or talk shop with his fellow investment partners.
But aside from continuing his workaday routine, things are changing for Chien and other partners at the storied Silicon Valley venture capital firm. Sources say that Chien is in the process of transitioning out of his role at Kleiner, amid recent changes in the firm’s partner structure.
Both Chien and Kleiner Perkins declined to comment on this story.
Last month, Fortune’s Dan Primack reported that Chien was “thinking about launching his own venture capital fund” that would focus on early-stage consumer technology companies. Two other seed investing sources we spoke to backed up this story and said Chien has continued to look into building his own fund, as part of his plan to transition out of Kleiner. Another person familiar with the situation says that early interest from potential limited partners in a new Chien-led fund has been solid.
Chien, who joined Kleiner in 2007, has led the firm’s investments in a number of consumer web startups including Path, Klout, Zaarly, and Chill. Some people have speculated that it is partly the lackluster performances of these kinds of consumer web investments that led to Kleiner’s restructuring in October, which left Chien and several other partners off of the investment committee in charge of Kleiner’s latest fund. At that time, however, it was reported that no partners were leaving Kleiner as part of the changes.
Chien’s ongoing departure is said to be amicable on a personal level — he was in attendance at the firm’s holiday party, and continues to be active at other Kleiner events. People with knowledge of the situation say a more full exit will likely happen over the course of 2014.
We’ll be sure to keep tabs on Chien’s next moves, since he’ll no doubt continue to be someone to watch in the startup investing space. It’s just the latest example that as much as industries like venture capital can seem to take on an air of staid permanence, technology is at its heart about constant change — and the world of those who invest in the sector is no different.
Opscode has raised $32 million and changed its name to Chef, after the configuration management and IT automation “cookbook” that has become very popular in the enterprise market. Scale Venture Partners led the round. Citibank and Amplify Partners also participated, as well as existing investors Battery Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ), and Ignition Partners. The Series D funding brings the company’s total amount raised to $65 million.
As part of the news, Chef also announced that Scale Venture Partners’ Rory O’Driscoll has joined the company’s board of directors. In addition, the company has hired Curt Anderson as its CFO. Anderson comes from Microsoft where he worked as CFO for Microsoft’s Manufacturing and Supply Chain Division.
Companies like Nordstrom are using Chef to build a code-centric platform for automating the practices between different groups in the IT organization so the company can adapt and move faster in the overall market. The retailer has used Chef’s cookbook of automation scripts to give it the predictability it needs at a speed and scale that it can’t do manually. With Chef, Nordstrom can integrate its heterogeneous infrastructure, allowing the company to make the most of its engineers. For example, the retailer has a number of Unix engineers who can now work on Windows systems. Chef automates the underlying infrastructure so engineers can work on code to make changes that are automatically propagated to the Windows-based systems.
Chef, founded by engineers from Amazon and Microsoft, plays in a booming market. For instance, retail is learning that it has to treat its stores like showrooms connected to mobile apps that provide a clear way to compare different products. That’s not just something these traditional companies can do without thinking of their IT investment, which is often more than 20 years old.
The shift for many is from old, middleware software to a new services environment that abstracts old systems. A number of companies are seeking a piece of this market by offering continuous integration services. Chef will use its funding to build out its own version of a continuous integration platform that leverages its IT automation platform.
The challenge for the company will be less about its name and more about the competitive market it faces. Puppet Labs, another IT automation provider, is Chef’s biggest foe but there are also a number of new challengers rising in the market, including SaltStack and AnsibleWorks.
This week on TechCrunch TV’s Ask A VC show, Accel Partners’ Ping Li and Foundation Capital’s Charles Moldow will be joining us, separately, in the studio. As you may remember, you can submit questions for our guests either in the comments or here and we’ll ask them during the show.
Li focuses on early stage, growth software and data center investments for Accel and is also responsible for the firm’s Big Data Fund. He’s a board member of Blue Jeans Network, Cloudera, Code42, Lookout, Nimble Storage, Origami Logic, RelateIQ, Tenable Network Security and Trifacta. Prior to Accel, Li worked at Juniper Networks as a Senior Product Line Manager for their flagship M-series router products, as well as Director of Corporate Development.
Moldow has made fourteen investments since joining Foundation in 2005, of which five have been acquired: PowerSet to Microsoft; Xoopit to Yahoo; Adwhirl to Google; Weblistic to Spot Runner; and, Therative to Phillips.
His current portfolio includes: BancBox, CloudOn, Copious, Everyday Health, Fanhood, HomeRun, LendingClub, Luminate, Motif Investing, Revel Touch, and SunRun. Previously Moldow spent five years with Tellme Networks and was a member of the founding executive team.
Please send us your questions for Li and Moldow here or put them in the comments below!