Jane Ren, one of the original founders of GE’s digital business, has a big mission. For decades software has been designed so people can interface with computers. But in the coming era of things talking to things, we need software so things can interface with computers.
So in 2013 Ren left GE to help found Atomiton, where she is now CEO. The idea is to build an operating system that makes it easy to add things to a system, makes them programmable and lets things talk to each other. Her software can run on tiny sensors, on gateways and in the cloud.
Atomiton does this using its own Thing Query Language (TQL) that Ren compares to Microsoft’s Visual Basic Programming language. It isn’t the only company trying to create a platform for things to talk to things, but its focus on creating a new programming language is relatively unique in a world where platforms typically are delivered as software as a service products hosted in a cloud. Ubuntu is trying to build something similar with its IoT Core version of Linux.
However, Atomiton does have help from Cisco and Intel. Cisco has deployed Atomiton’s platform in some of its smart city projects. It also has 50 other companies developing projects using TQL from giants like Accenture to startups like Placemeter.
Atomiton’s software is currently used in oil and gas, smart cities, agriculture and industrial automation. The plan is to continue getting deals through its relationships with systems integrators and on its own. Ren says the company makes money by doing a revenue share when it works with partners, and by pricing its software per core for its own deals.
The company has been bootstrapped up until this point, generating $1.5 million in revenue last year. Ren says it is break even with all profits going back into the business. She projects revenue of $4 million in 2017 and plans to start raising a first round of funding soon.