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Originally published August 26, 2013 at 12:07 AM | Page modified August 26, 2013 at 6:28 AM

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Opscode CEO Mitch Hill resigns; Barry Crist takes over

Hill, a longtime Seattle tech leader, stepped down last week to devote his full attention to fighting an illness that he’s been battling.

Seattle Times senior technology reporter

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Microsoft isn’t the only area software company undergoing a change at the top.

Longtime Seattle tech leader Mitch Hill has resigned as chief executive of Opscode, two years after taking the helm of the enterprise software startup.

Hill stepped down last week to devote his full attention to fighting an illness that he’s been battling.

Barry Crist, the company’s vice president of enterprise, was named chief executive and chairman. Crist joined the company five months ago after working as an entrepreneur in residence at Ignition Partners, the Bellevue-based venture firm backing Opscode.

“We kind of lucked out on that front,” said Ignition’s John Connors. “Usually at this stage of company, you don’t have an internal person who is an experienced, CEO-caliber person.”

Crist began his tech career at Apple, working his way up from tech support. Later he was a vice president at Mercury Interactive, an enterprise software firm that spawned several area tech executives after it was acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 2006.

Crist went on to become chief executive of Likewise, a Bellevue enterprise storage venture acquired by EMC Isilon last year.

Hill was the founding chief executive of Avanade, a Seattle-based consulting firm started in 2000 by Microsoft and Accenture. Before that he spent two decades at Accenture, eventually managing its tech business in the Western U.S.

Hill left Opscode in good standing. The 5-year-old company has moved from primarily serving smaller tech operations to mostly serving Fortune 1000 companies, which use its Chef platform to automate their server infrastructure.

Its blue-chip clients include GE, Nordstrom, Target, Boeing and Disney. It’s also working with pretty much every major cloud-services vendor to develop its platform.

“We feel great about where we’re at,” Hill said. “Opscode is at a completely different place than it was a couple of year ago, in terms of the maturity of the product.”

Crist said Opscode is expected to double sales this year and next, and it will probably double its head count over the next year. It now has just more than 100 employees and has outgrown its Pioneer Square office. It may relocate to a larger space in early 2014.

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