Cooking tech startup ChefSteps, funded by Valve’s Gabe Newell, cuts jobs but says it will live on

Cooking tech startup ChefSteps, funded by Valve’s Gabe Newell, cuts jobs but says it will live on

11:15pm, 24th April, 2019
Chris Young, CEO and co-founder of ChefSteps, demonstrating the Joule sous vide cooking device at the GeekWire Summit in 2016. (GeekWire File Photo / Dan DeLong) , the high-tech cooking startup financed by video game titan Gabe Newell, cut an unspecified number of jobs on Wednesday, significantly scaling back its operations. But the company plans to remain in business, and continue selling and supporting its Joule sous vide cooking device, according to co-founder and CEO Chris Young. , ChefSteps built a community around online videos, vivid photographs and cooking insights from its expert founders, before expanding into hardware with the Joule device. , controlled via smartphone, heats water to precise temperatures to cook immersed food evenly over extended periods of time, using the sous vide cooking technique. A reported Wednesday that ChefSteps had “laid off almost their entire staff and will be shuttering day-to-day operations.” However, Young told GeekWire via text Wednesday evening that ChefSteps remains in business and will continue to sell and support Joule. Further details on the cutbacks weren’t immediately available. People familiar with ChefSteps said the company had employed about 50 people in addition to contractors. The company is currently of the Pacific Northwest’s top privately held companies. ChefSteps co-founders Chris Young, far left, and Grant Crilly, far right, with other early members of the ChefSteps team at their Pike Place Market studio and kitchen in 2012. (GeekWire File Photo / Todd Bishop) Young and co-founder Grant Crilly are known in part for their past roles collaborating with former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold, the Intellectual Ventures chief, on the epic . Young previously was the founding chef of Heston Blumenthal’s influential Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen. Crilly’s experience includes serving as chef de cuisine at Busaba in Mumbai and Mistral in Seattle, and head development chef at Delicious Planet. The company has been funded through a low-interest loan from Newell, head of video game company Valve, the operator of the Steam video game platform. In , the ChefSteps co-founders credited the funding from Newell with giving them the ability to focus on the long-term goals of building and serving a large, high-quality community of users, without the short-term pressures of monetizing that community or generating a quick return. It’s not an easy business: Another Seattle startup that made a sous vide device, Sansaire, .
Seattle Opera goes beyond Apple to get to the core of Steve Jobs’ complex character

Seattle Opera goes beyond Apple to get to the core of Steve Jobs’ complex character

2:26pm, 26th February, 2019
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs (played by John Moore) raises a smartphone in a scene from “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs.” (Seattle Opera Photo / Philip Newton) You shouldn’t expect to glean startup tips from “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs,” the one-act opera playing at the Seattle Opera. And don’t expect to hear the brand names “Apple” or “iPhone” or “Microsoft” sung. But you can expect to see and hear the tangled story of Apple’s enigmatic co-founder told on a literally operatic scale. There’s also a message for techies that can be boiled down to the first words flashing on the supertitle screen, even before the first note sounds: “Look up. Look around. Be here now. And turn off your devices.” Devices like Apple’s iPhone figure heavily in the staging of “(R)evolution”: Even the set elements that swirl around the stage and serve to project backdrops are proportioned like giant iPhones. The first big aria in the work, with music by Mason Bates and libretto by Mark Campbell, celebrates the iPhone’s introduction in 2007: “Only one device / Does it all / In one hand / All you need.” But devices are never all you need, even for an introspective, obsessive genius like Jobs. Rather than focusing on the gadgetry, the core of “(R)evolution” focuses on the connection that he failed to keep up with an early lover, and the connection he was able to maintain with a later lover. It helps to know the basic outlines of Jobs’ life, which was cut short in 2011 due to complications from pancreatic cancer. To know, for example, that he had difficulties acknowledging a child by one woman — but had three other children with another woman who became his wife. Or that he was ousted from Apple for a time, but returned to Apple’s CEO post after “going back to the garage” and creating a different company called NeXT. It also helps to know postmodern classical music: Bates’ score blends lush symphonic melodies and guitar tunes with the clicks of electronica and the tinkle of Buddhist prayer bells. If you’re comfortable with Philip Glass’ opera about Mahatma Gandhi, or John Adams’ you’ll be in familiar musical territory. If you’re not, you could be in for a challenging hour and a half. In the opera, Jobs’ character (played by John Moore) is guided through the scrambled scenes of his life by the shade of his Zen teacher, a Buddhist monk named Kōbun. “What are you doing here? You died five years ago,” Jobs says when Kōbun (played by Adam Lau) walks on stage. “I’m your spiritual mentor. I’m always around,” the monk replies. Kōbun takes Jobs through a timeline that zips back and forth through his childhood in the ’60s, the origins of Apple (and Jobs’ first child, Lisa) in the ’70s, Jobs’ rise and fall and rise at Apple in the ’80s and ’90s, and his 21st-century apotheosis and death. The twists and turns trace Jobs’ arc as detailed in Walter Isaacson’s definitive biography, right down to the acid trip that he took in a field just outside Sunnyvale with Lisa’s mother, Chrisann Brennan (played in the opera by Madison Leonard). “All of a sudden the wheat field was playing Bach,” Jobs told Isaacson. “It was the most wonderful feeling I had in my life up to that point.” Bates picks up on that epiphany in the “(R)evolution” score, and the scenery goes psychedelic. For what it’s worth, Campbell’s libretto includes the disclaimer that his work doesn’t purport to depict actual events or statements, and that the story has not been authorized or endorsed by Apple, Jobs’ family or by anyone depicted in the opera. (I can hardly wait to see what composers and librettists do with the operatic arc of Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ life.) “(R)evolution” isn’t exactly structured like an arc. Instead, it’s a circle, like the Ensō ring that plays such a significant role in Zen iconography. Even the smartphones in the opera are branded with the Zen circle rather than the trademarked Apple logo. It’s up to the character of Jobs’ widow, Lauren Powell Jobs (played by Emily Fons), to help close the circle by imagining what “Version 2.0 of Steve” might say to the masses peering at the iPhones that are so much a part of his legacy. “Look up, look out, look around. Be here now,” Lauren sings. “And then he’d say, ‘Please buy them, but don’t spend your life on them.’ “