As the founding CEO of Avanade, Mitch Hill once oversaw close to 9,000 employees. In his latest gig, there won’t be quite as many heads to count. The 52-year-old Seattle executive has been named CEO of Opscode, a 37-person company backed with $13.5 million from Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Battery Ventures and others.
That’s obviously a pretty radical change of pace. But the Seattle technology executive said that he’s excited to be at the helm of a startup again, pointing out that he was the first employee at Avanade and responsible for hiring the first employees.
“That was a unique experience to live at a company that was very small and then got medium-sized and eventually got large,” said Hill, who led Avanade from 2000 to 2008. “But I am really excited about being close to the technology, close to the dev team and close to our early enterprise customers. I am doing sales calls and I am sitting in stand-up meetings with the dev team …. and it is just a hell a lot of fun. At a big company, you don’t get to do stuff like that.”
Hill takes over the top post from founder Jesse Robbins, a 32-year-old former Amazon.com employee who is assuming the new position of Chief Community Officer.
Robbins said that he’s excited to have Hill on board, noting that the executive came in via the “side door” after a national search effort. He said that Hill “has proven experience in building large scale technology companies to serve the complex IT challenges of enterprise customers.”
While Opscode may never equal Avanade in terms of headcount, Hill said that the opportunity in front of the maker of cloud computing infrastructure technologies is “very large.” Opscode’s Chef products help organizations better manage and control computing environments — servers, desktops, mobile devices and more.
“I’ve been doing this for a while, and computing in my lifetime, we go through periods where we scale up and we go through periods where we scale out. And now we are scaling out on the cloud, and the amount of complexity that that adds to everybody’s life whether you are an architect or developer or a system admin is pretty phenomenal,” Hill tells GeekWire. “People just have more stuff to manage and that is the problem that Opscode solves.”
Opscode is growing fast, with plans to nearly double its office space along Western Avenue in the coming months.