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Months after significant layoffs, Joule cooking device maker ChefSteps acquired by Breville – GeekWire


Chris Young, co-founder of ChefSteps, demonstrating the Joule sous vide cooking device at GeekWire Summit 2016. (GeekWire Photo / Dan DeLong)

Less than three months after cutting a significant portion of its staff, Seattle startup ChefSteps was acquired Tuesday by kitchen appliance giant Breville Group.

Known for its Joule sous vide cooking device, ChefSteps scaled back operations in April but stayed in business as it explored strategic options.

Now it has a new owner. Breville, founded in 1932 and based in Sydney, is known for selling appliances such as blenders, coffee machines, toasters, and more. The deal “forms a natural consumer-focused extension to Breville’s existing commercial sous vide range of products,” the company said in a press release.

“ChefSteps has produced tremendous innovation in the content and connected hardware space, and we are excited at the scale we can achieve by combining their content and intellectual property with our current and future consumer products,” Breville CEO Jim Clayton said in a statement. “We also look forward to engaging with, and serving, the very active and enthusiastic community ChefSteps has built around its product and content. I am thrilled with the opportunity to leverage this extraordinary combination of assets while pursuing our shared mission.”

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. ChefSteps will keep its office in Seattle.

“From inception, our mission at ChefSteps has been to help people cook smarter,” ChefSteps CEO Chris Young said in a statement. “By staying true to our unwavering dedication to innovation, we have achieved great things. Becoming part of Breville Group marks an incredibly exciting new chapter, opening up significant opportunities to help ChefSteps realize its full potential on a global stage.”

We’ve reached out to Young for more details and will update this story when we hear back.

The Joule device is controlled via smartphone app. (ChefSteps Photo)

Young told The Spoon that Breville contacted ChefSteps after the layoffs. Breville will invest in its software team and capabilities. “In a lot of ways, this is a great outcome,” he told The Spoon, adding that “I expect be involved in Breville in some way going forward.”

Founded in 2012 at Seattle’s Pike Place Market, ChefSteps built a community around online videos, vivid photographs and cooking insights from its expert founders, before expanding into hardware with the Joule device. The $199 circulator, controlled via smartphone, heats water to precise temperatures to cook immersed food evenly over extended periods of time, using the sous vide cooking technique.

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 Modernist Cuisine cookbook. 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 was funded through a low-interest loan from Gabe Newell, head of video game company Valve, the operator of the Steam video game platform. In a 2014 GeekWire interview, 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.

ChefSteps was ranked No. 103 on the GeekWire 200 index of the Pacific Northwest’s top privately held companies.

In a post shared with a “Cook with Joule” public group on Facebook following the layoffs, Young said the situation “truly sucks” but that product and customer support for Joule would still be available. Young said certain lines of business, including Joule Ready and any additional content being added to ChefSteps Premium, would be discontinued.



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