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Chef CEO Barry Crist, left, interviews John Connors of Ignition and Bill Bryant of DFJ
Chef CEO Barry Crist, left, interviews John Connors of Ignition and Bill Bryant of DFJ

The technology industry is in constant motion occasionally undergoing tectonic shifts, altering the landscape and crowning new winners and losers.

The industry is in the midst of one of those shifts right now, and that’s creating huge opportunities. At least that’s the word from two of Seattle’s leading venture capitalists who spoke Thursday afternoon at the grand opening of Chef’s new Pioneer Square headquarters. (Stay tuned for a full video tour of the space).

John Connors and Bill Bryant at the Chef grand opening
John Connors and Bill Bryant at the Chef grand opening

Ignition’s John Connors and DFJ’s Bill Bryant described a new world or the IT industry, saying it is evolving and transforming to a cloud and mobile-centric world.

“What’s clear is the level of the evolution is probably unprecedented, at least in all of the years I’ve been in tech starting in 1989 when I joined Microsoft,” said Connors, who previously served as CFO and CIO at Microsoft. “But it is highly analogous to the 90s, the industry is just so much larger and the use of technology is much more pervasive. There is no doubt that the data model is being completely rethought.”

Bryant, a startup vet and one of the earliest investors in Chef, agreed, noting that the shift is similar to what occurred as the industry moved from mainframes to client servers to PCs. “IT is changing,” said Bryant, recalling how NetBot, one of the earliest metasearch companies, controlled roughly 10 percent of search traffic essentially from three server boxes.

“The scale that we do computing at today is so vast. The velocity is so incredibly fast,” said Bryant.

“We are in this paradigm shift to cloud and mobile-centric computing model, and in every one of those shifts there are winners and losers,” he added. “Very few companies are able to make those transitions. Maybe Microsoft will do it from PC to cloud, but that will be a rare instance. Within that context, that’s what we look for as investors is the winners, obviously, of the new way of computing to happen.”

In that vein, Connors noted that the cloud is scary to incumbents who have their name on a server box. For them, he said the cloud is clearly “bad.” But for a new breed of enterprise software companies and consumers, the cloud is extremely important because it allows business concepts to be developed faster and at a lower cost.

“The speed at which you can experiment, and try things and scale things is just dramatically different,” said Connors, who joined Ignition in 2005. That speed of innovation was primarily sparked by consumer Internet companies such as Facebook, Amazon, eBay and Google.

“The speed at which they are introducing new services has completely shifted the mentality of what it means to deliver IT as a service or to deliver applications as services,” he said. “So, the cost model is dramatically different, and the speed is much faster. And that’s what makes it really interesting, at least on two dimensions for me.”

Also on GeekWire: Ignition’s John Connors: Here’s what Seattle can learn from Silicon Valley

You can listen to the full remarks from the talk, including Chef CEO Barry Crist’s welcome below.

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