Edge Startup of the Year CxO Interviews: John Cowan, Founder & CEO, Edjx
In the lead up to the presentation of the Edge Startup of the Year Award at Edge Computing World, we’re taking some time to get to know the leaders of each of the ten Finalists. Today we are talking with John Cowan, Founder & CEO of EDJX, about all things edge computing:
Hi John ! Tell us a bit about yourself – what led you to get involved in the edge computing market?
James Thomason and I saw the opportunity to realize a vision we both shared about the future of IT delivery as an interchangeable, homogeneous utility. In 2015, I helped launch the world’s first ever spot market for cloud computing contracts backed by a legitimate exchange (CME Group) with a view to establishing a market pricing mechanism based on the underlying cash market for cloud infrastructure. At the same time, James was the CTO for Dell’s Cloud Computing division and had pioneered the first major contractual abstraction of multi-tenant cloud computing services such as AWS.
What we both observed, however, was that the underlying technologies to support genuine workload portability, metering, billing and settlement were insufficient to manifest the kind of open, liquid, volatile market we imagined. Put simply, we were too early.
Fast forward three years and our paths would cross once again. I had pioneered a prototype dApp concept designed for the Ethereum blockchain that could instantly meter and facilitate limitless multi-party settlement. At the same time, James was building his thesis that IoT would form the center of gravity for the 4th Internet, which was going to require more infrastructure located in close proximity to people, devices and machines.
Our vision for the edge computing market was born.
So what is it that the company is uniquely bringing to the edge market?
In order to execute any grand plan, you need a unique combination of vision, experience, and technical capability. Lots of companies have one or even two of those dynamics, but three is rare. EDJX has all three. The result is a truly unique technology and business model that harnesses the concept of ‘decentralization’ in ways never seen before. At EDJX, ‘the Community is the Cloud’ and the consequence of this mantra will be the largest edge computing network ever conceived.
Tell us more about the company?
EDJX began initially as a research project sponsored by 6fusion in 2017, my previous venture-backed startup. As I began to socialize the research findings and early prototypes market interest in the concept as a stand alone offering was clear and present. However, to pursue independence would require a sophisticated team. First, I recruited Mike Preston to help with the structural formation of the company along with early business planning. Mike is not your rank and file CFO. He has worked on behalf of venture capitalists and he has worked on the side of the early stage company. In addition, at the time he and I met, Mike was a licensed broker in the investment banking market.
Next, I re-united with James Thomason as a meeting of the minds. We agreed the time was finally right to pursue our long standing ambitions and James stepped into the role of CTO.
If the EDJX project was going to disrupt the economics of edge computing, it was going to need an up and coming finance thinker. Enter Brad Kirby. Having played hockey together during our days living in the Cayman Islands, we knew each other for several years. But it was Brad’s recent work in cryptocurrencies, blockchain and the future of central banking that brought us together again. A CPA and former executive at Brookfield Asset Management, Brad joined us in the capacity of VP Market Development, heading up the company’s vision for decentralized peer to peer commerce.
James and I each brought two very important components to the team. Delano Seymour, my business partner of nearly 20 years and technical visionary behind early EDJX prototypes, was added to the roster as Chief Architect. James introduced the team to long time associate and collaborator Vipin Sharma. Vipin joined as VP Engineering, heading up EDJX India, where all product development happens.
The team assembled, we have one single milestone or ‘objective’ in 2020: To deliver a commercial grade edge computing platform to the market that spans the globe faster than any company or technology predecessor.
How do you see the edge market developing over the next few years?
The hallmark of the 4th Internet will be dumb-simple ease of use with zero latency automation achieved without compromising data security and governance.
I see the edge market developing as a confluence of competing forces between traditional CDN operators and existing public cloud computing providers in a race to define and own the edge computing domain. Juxtaposed therein will be a rapidly inflating cadre of disruptive and innovative start up companies.
The consequence of these dynamic forces will be the eventual utilization of compute, network and storage at the edge where developers of IoT applications and data are the ultimate winners.
The ‘next few years’ will be characterized as a period of formation and settling. Technologies will come and technologies will go. Some will be great. Others, not so great. Large incumbents will overpay to acquire upstarts even without revenue or adoption at scale. Mistakes will be made. But most importantly, the future winners of the edge economy will emerge from this period, which will give way to the inevitable arms race among the titans of the edge industry.
Thanks John, and best of luck with the Award !