RALEIGH — EDJX, an edge computing platform, is one of the Triangle’s most promising startups. But in recent months, it’s undergone a major shakeup. Two of its original founders, John Cowan, then its chief executive officer, and James Thomason, its former chief technology officer, left the company in March due to “creative and strategic differences of opinion” with its board.
Since then, EDJX (pronounced Edge-X) has replaced Cowan with Benjamin Thomas, a former general partner with DC-based Novington Capital. It has also added $3 million to its coffers led by Intersouth Partners, bringing its total raised to date to $15 million.
Global edge computing is expected to hit $17.8 billion by 2026. The word “edge,” in the context of computers, means literal geographic distribution. Edge computing is computing that’s done at or near the source of the data, instead of relying on the centralized “public cloud” at one of a dozen data centers to do all the work.
WRAL TechWire’s Chantal Allam had the chance to catch up with Thomas to discuss the company’s recent developments. Here’s what he had to say:
- EDJX has just experienced a significant executive change with two of the original founders leaving. How does it feel coming into the company at such a time?
EDJX’s technological foundation is sound and cutting edge; the original vision of the founders was spot on. We have built architecture from scratch explicitly for the edge. In fact, Delano Seymour, who was EDJX’s original chief technology officer, has remained and is doing a super job. I feel lucky to have become CEO at such a critical time in the company’s growth. Our focus now is commercialization of our products and services.
Right now, we’re onboarding developers to join us to build and run applications — in fact, more are joining each week. EDJX does not require server management or the maintenance of underlying infrastructure. Businesses can onboard to our serverless EDJX Platform to start building their apps. We’re at the cusp of a growth spurt, and I am excited for the company’s future.
- Before joining EDJX, you served as a general partner at DC-private equity firm and founder of VitalPet, a platform consolidating veterinary hospitals. How did you go from that to leading an edge computing startup?
I have a track record of identifying opportunities early in various industries, jumping in as senior leadership, and creating meaningful results. I have done this in veterinary medicine and the travel industry. I’ve also made a number of other active investments in technology and financial services.
My career started as an engineer at NASA/Lockheed Martin and later as a business analyst at Accenture, so I am very comfortable in the tech domain. I have also personally managed offshore teams and built over 100 software applications. An engineer by training, I completed my bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering at Tulane University and a master’s in Management from Stanford University.
When I learned about EDJX and the potential to lead the next wave of computing, I made an investment and joined as CEO. I started in a consulting capacity in April, and officially joined in July. The team is terrific, passionate, experienced, and motivated. Also, taking a business from concept to reality is invigorating for me as a serial entrepreneur.
- Last week, EDJX also announced a $3 million raise, bringing its total capital raised to $15 million. TechWire understands this round is in anticipation of a much larger round that will occur in 2023. Why is EDJX raising these funds? And how is it planning to spend it?
We’re so fortunate to have friends, close associates and believers in our technological vision. Intersouth Partners led this round, and they have been great partners. This latest raise is recognition of the groundbreaking work we’re doing, EDJX is gaining market momentum and accelerating the adoption of serverless edge computing, and the need to forge ahead to power next generation architecture for the edge.
As with the launch of any new platform, it takes substantial capital to gain broad traction. We’re raising funds to keep driving our positive momentum, to keep innovating, building and acquiring customers who require compute located close to where they are.
- When TechWire touched base with EDJX in September 2021, EDJX’s co-founder and former CEO John Cowan said: “It’s not a stretch to see EDJX at about $1 billion of enterprise value within the next 12 to 18 months.” He said rate of growth was about double every six months. Where is EDJX now?
We have an unfailing belief in EDJX’s technology and use cases. We’re not a $1 billion company, but we believe we have the pieces in place to become that, just not within that 12-18 month time frame. Our momentum is growing, and as I mentioned we are adding new users each week.
EDJX opened its global serverless platform for developers in July. Tell us about EDJX’s decision to pursue this vertical, and the Smash Your Servers! campaign.
We see Smash Your Servers as encouragement for developers to build from scratch for the edge. EDJX brings compute, storage and sensor hosting services close to the developer where they can build and run applications without the need to manage servers or maintain underlying infrastructure. EDJX services include a serverless computing environment for applications currently built with C++ or Rust. More languages will be added soon.
- What is different about EDJX’s serverless edge platform from the competition?
There are a number of serverless platforms out there, but most of them are built using centralized architecture, using traditional cloud tools designed for cozy, protected data centers. A lot of the developers of these platforms just assume centralized is the answer and it’s what they know. The edge is a messy place, and you have to leave the data center to discover the edge.
In the future where you have hundreds of billions of devices, compute and storage will need to move out to the edge. The sheer amount of data and processing will require hyper-local compute and storage to process the data generated. The cloud won’t be able to keep up, and micro-data centers at the far edge will be necessary.
This is where EDJX comes in with our operating system. At EDJX, we believe we’ve solved the problem with proprietary, decentralized architecture; a self-healing mesh network that is able to live on the edge; that allows enterprises to quickly and efficiently deploy to the edge – at lower cost and complexity. Also, developers can connect their sensors directly to our EdjBlocks for virtual real time signal processing, something that you can’t do, or would not want to do, in a data center.
- EDJX participated in the Public Infrastructure Network Node (PINN) Pilot at Texas Military Department in Austin in 2021. Any update?
For EDJX, our involvement in the PINN initiative has provided great exposure to the possibilities of the first unified open standard to support 5G wireless, edge computing, radar, lidar, enhanced GPS, and intelligent transportation systems. PINNs deliver a multitude of advanced edge sensors and computing capabilities.
We have been in close contact with many U.S. based vendors, who see our operating system as a vital component to their offering. These manufacturers recognize our multi-tenant edge mesh network is unique and critical to making it all work at the edge. Many of these deployments are part of public funding initiatives by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and they take time to materialize. We hope to see some of these come to fruition in 2023 as these important initiatives get funded.
- What’s happening with EDJX’s partnership with Cubic Corporation to launch what the company called the “the world’s first Internet of Military Things Edge Platform” (IOMT)?
Cubic has been a great partner for us EDJX. We’re working with Cubic on a number of initiatives.
We continue to see a great deal of flux as 5G continues to roll out. For one, our IOMT edge platform has significant implications for IoT and advanced AI solutions at the far edge of the network combining to form a transformational end-to-end IoT solution from base to battlefield, solving immediate challenges for the military and civilian first responders.
We’re still working with the Autonomy Institute Alpha Lab at Camp Mabry where developers build, test, and deploy next generation Internet of Things solutions providing the blueprint for public safety, military, and civilian use cases. The work is ongoing.
- What’s the current size of EDJX’s team? Are there any plans to hire and scale the team or operations?
EDJX is growing. At present, we have around 40 team members. Like most internet companies, our team is wherever we find the best talent. Of course, we’re headquartered right here in Raleigh, with several key people based here. Our chief financial officer is based in Raleigh. We also have significant investors in North Carolina. I am based in Washington D.C., an easy drive to Raleigh.
We are also proud to note that we employ people from all over the world. We’re in the midst of onboarding a team of developers and expanding our employee role in this way. We’re also looking to hire a developer evangelist ideally based in Research Triangle Park, and we are looking for additional sales executives at this time.
- What should we expect next from EDJX?
Our priority is to carefully listen to feedback from developers as we grow our base. We’re also onboarding customers that have some exciting use cases, like sub 5 millisecond sensor response rate. To my knowledge, only EDJX can accomplish this.
We also plan to launch new features at upcoming conferences, including ITS World Congress, and Edge Computing World, where we will be running a hackathon with lots of cool prizes. We want to be the easy-button solution for the edge.