Exactly one year ago today, we launched our program backed initially by Intel and T-Mobile. Since then we:

1. Launched Batch #1, 2 & 3: Sixteen companies bravely took the leap into our first Batch a year ago today. Pre-program funding of these companies topped $51M, with 3 companies raising $20M (iUNU, Omnivor, and Expeto) post program. An additional 31 companies were part of Batch #2 & 3. Overall, 47 companies raised $318M in pre-program funding and $67M in post-program capital (add Teal & Proximie & stay tuned for future announcements).

2. First acquisition: Matrix Labs (woohoo!) by Rokk3r.

3. New Partners: In September last year we proudly announced new partnerships with Avanade, VMware, Dell, Microsoft, Amdocs and F5 Networks (more to be announced soon).

4. Field Lab Launch: In November we had an unbelievable opportunity to build out our Field Lab vision supported by Snohomish County. The trick was standing up functional networks in less than 45 days. Thanks to unshakable Partner support we quietly commissioned our Field Labs days before end of year holidays and formally launched them in February.

As Simon Sinek once said,

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”.

Agreed Simon, well said. We believe that software is a catalyst of indescribable potential for companies crossing the digital chasm. Our program makes it easy for innovative startups, platforms, and industries to coalesce on a common mission. We’ve built the bridge to crossing the digital chasm by bringing together learning’s, experimentation, and collaboration. After all luck is when preparation meets opportunity, right?

5G is about software fusing connectivity with computing on the edge. In my opinion CSPs are approaching a digital chasm in their evolution to 5G and in how they position their platforms with, and for, the software ecosystem to create value on. Marc Andreessen penned a Wall Street Journal opt-ed entitled “Why software is eating the world”. His argument cited industries, and its incumbents, transformed by agile startups betting on software to serve customers better than they had in the past. Almost 10 years later many of his assertions became a foregone conclusion. Incumbents have either embraced software as a means of refactoring their market value, limped along, or cease to exist altogether. Think Blockbuster versus Netflix or better yet, Netflix’s own pivot from their origins in postal based DVD rentals to streaming and creating their own content. In his latest book titled Ask your Developer, Twilio CEO, Jeff Lawson, asserted that for enterprises to be successful in the 21st century they need to turn to software for differentiation:

“The world of communications was diametrically opposed to the ethos of software. The communications industry was built upon a century of physical infrastructure investments: digging millions of miles of ditches and laying down wire, launching satellites into space, or spending billions buying wireless spectrum from governments. These were big, high-risk activities, so they moved at a slow pace. Yet how we got value out of communications wasn’t about the physical stuff anymore. We take for granted all those wires we’ve wrapped the planet in, and now we have the luxury of thinking about what we build on top of that in software, with innovation happening in days or weeks, not months or years.”

I have had the fortune throughout my career to see the impact software has had in telecommunications (Nortel Networks), enterprise software (PeopleSoft/Oracle), and cloud (Microsoft). Overwhelming internet adoption made a once Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) darling, and dominate telecommunications systems provider, (Nortel Networks) less relevant and now non-existent. PeopleSoft pioneered SaaS before SaaS became popular. Their move to PeopleSoft Internet Architecture (PIA) was a step towards web scale applications which, at the time, was a revolutionary to then popular client-server architecture. PeopleSoft 8 was a complete web rewrite of their client-server architecture into a category then called application service provider (ASP). Shortly after Oracle’s 2004 acquisition of PeopleSoft, founder Dave Duffield embraced the momentum he saw with web and launched Workday, an HCM SaaS platform.

In 2005 I joined Microsoft and experienced firsthand the change it underwent transforming their trusted on-premises enterprise platforms and products into massive cloud services. Today they lead in collaboration (Office), Cloud (Azure), business applications (Dynamics), hardware and online gaming services. Being a software engineering company is in Microsoft’s DNA, but they too had to think through transforming their core businesses from on-premises into both cloud hosted and hybrid platforms. Their evolution paid off significantly accelerating their market capitalization from $303 billion in 2014 to $1,87 trillion dollars today. Software is the cornerstone of innovation, a change agent, and a blank sheet for developers to create anything with. The near limitless possibilities of software enables anyone to build something new or disrupt the old. At the end of the day software boils down to code executed by machines. It is wonderfully powerful, and easily scrap-able. It’s just code.

Elon Musk once said,

“Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.”

The future of 5G is not limited to connectivity, its only limited by the creativity of software developers. The CSP that once connected your mobile device now has the potential of becoming a platform for value generating applications. It’s a paradigm shift in the making and unfolding as we speak. Eight weeks ago we proudly kicked off our Summer 2021 program with 15 amazing companies including:

1. Accelercomm — A semiconductor IP-core company specializing in channel coding solutions — www.accelercomm.com

2. Agolo — Human quality summaries at machine scale — www.agolo.com

3. Attila ­- Provides visibility, control, and threat defense across physical, virtual, and cloud applications — www.attilasec.com

4. A5G Networks — Revolutionizing 5G networks — www.a5gnet.com

5. Blue White Robotics — Autonomous Systems Operation Platform for agriculture — www.bluewhiterobotics.com

6. Continual — Advanced Mobility Experience Analytics monitoring and benchmarking experiences for connected vehicles — www.continualexperience.com

7. EdgeQ — Specializes in the fields of 5G chip systems — www.edgeq.io

8. LogDNA — Log management providing DevOps teams an aggregation of all their system and application logs on one platform — www.logdna.com

9. MantisNet — Cloud-native software for real-time detection and response — www.mantisnet.com

10. Navtrac — Next generation yard management system (YMS) — www.navtrac.com

11. Proximie — Saving lives by sharing the world’s best clinical practice — www.proximie.com

12. SensorUp — GeoAI and IoT Platform for Connected Workers — www.sensorup.com

13. Simetric — Providing real-time insights across carriers for the global scale of connected devices — www.simetric.com

14. Teal — Intelligent Services for IoT — www.tealcom.io

15. Tupl — Tupl automates technical customer care and network operations through AI — www.tupl.com

These companies, and the 32 before them, recognize the enormous potential of fusing connectivity with computing. They’ve written applications and infrastructure capabilities to enable industry transformations, fill platform gaps, or create new product categories. If predictions on the market potential for 5G and edge hold true, it’s going to be wild 15+ years ahead. Keep in mind that the vision of 4G standards initiated in 2002, commercialized in 2009 and yet in 2021 we are still early in 5G deployments globally with quite limited device ranging (phone, chipsets, etc.) compared to available 4G LTE devices and components.

Batch #4 recruiting

We have initiated recruiting for Batch #4 scheduled to kick off September 13th, 2021. We are constantly on the hunt for companies pursuing technology innovation in categories such as autonomous anything (cars, drones, ships, heavy machinery, etc.), enterprise AR/VR, all things security, AI on the edge, IIoT, robotics, computer vision, distributed computing, and real-time data analysis. We believe that industries such as manufacturing, transportation (including logistics), healthcare, agriculture, energy (including utilities, oil, and gas) and retail are likely to see the early benefits from this ecosystem. Companies applying to our program are vetted by us and our Partners because we invest so much of our time enabling unique access through Partner led engagements. Finally, we have over 90 active investors including CVCs, institutional, and strategic investors evaluating current and future companies for deals. We are not an Accelerator or incubator; founder can hold on their equity. What we do ask for is 3 hours, or less, a week over the course of 12 weeks. We intentionally stay out of the way of our companies and focus on our engagements on their enabling success. If you’re interested, we want to hear from you.

Jack Canfield once said,

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear”.

Fear is false evidence appearing real. The bridge to crossing the software chasm gets easier through innovation, platform, and industry collaboration. What’s left is mindset. If you think you can, you will. If you think you can’t, you won’t.

Thanks for reading.