The Download: John Cowan, Co-Founder & CEO, EDJX

John Cowan is co-founder and CEO of Raleigh-based EDJX, Inc. (“EDJX”), a pioneering edge computing startup. Before founding EDJX, Cowan created 6fusion. Under his leadership, 6fusion raised over $30M in venture capital, completed the acquisition of Markitx.com, launched a global business with WorleyParsons, and helped create UCX, the IT industry’s first-ever commodity exchange for cloud computing contracts.

  1. What is in your pockets?

Just my mobile phone and my car keys.

  1. What exciting thing has happened recently for you or your organization?

A lot has happened recently at EDJX.  The Autonomy Institute is marrying up the EDJX platform, which makes it possible for developers to deploy planet-scale applications with a unique infrastructure deployment. That solves the problem of the densification of IoT sensors and raw edge computing and storage located everywhere across a city landscape.

It relies on a Smart Pole, a tower-looking structure chock-full of all the necessary sensors to enable the next generation of autonomous things. LiDAR, radar, video, acoustic, weather, APMT, geospatial, all kinds of sensor technology delivered in a single payload at a single installation. Think hundreds or thousands of those deployed across broad landscapes. This is the foundational infrastructure that’s necessary to achieve what we call Industry 4.0 solutions including autonomous things and highly intelligent machines. Our software platform stitches that all together. It makes it possible to harness and leverage those technologies.

EDJX is an early-stage company that’s growing up fast. It’s the brainchild of a collaboration between me and James Thomason, my partner, co-founder, and CTO. I’ve known James from back when he was the CTO for Dell Cloud. We were doing some work together back in 2015 and got to talking about what we thought the future of the cloud and the internet was. We shared converging philosophies on all of that.

As we watched the market evolve, we realized we were moving out of this abstract world of spreadsheets and games and social media sites to a world of applications in real life. Applications controlling machines and making decisions for factory operations, traffic flow, etc. That was going to need ultra-low-latency, high-performance computers.

You need high-performance computers located in close proximity to where the data is generated, which is the basic definition of edge computing. The big eureka for us was realizing that pre-existing cloud architectures were woefully inadequate. It is generally located very far away from where data is created. It is complex and too slow to address the needs of these applications in the real world.

That precipitated the need for a new play. That’s how EDJX was really born. We created a new cloud platform that’s capable of delivering multi-tenant services to developers everywhere on any piece of infrastructure located, say, within 1,000 feet of every connected thing on the planet. We’re building the biggest edge computing network ever conceived.

We’re able to create a federated peer-to-peer mesh of any computer that’s running our EdjxOS. When you boot up that EdjxOS it joins that peer-to-peer network and the resources become available for utilization by all these kinds of applications and services that are being built. It’s a revolutionary approach to solving the problem.

What’s fundamentally different about EDJX from an architecture standpoint is that there’s no centralization, there’s no EDJX core. We run everywhere, like Skynet in The Terminator.

The cloud can deliver at best maybe 100 milliseconds round-trip latency, but autonomous things need to achieve latency at sub-10 milliseconds. How do you do that when you’ve got a speed of light problem? It’s a physics problem of distance. The way to solve that is to take the cloud or the idea of multi-tenant computers and pull them way down from where they are and put them right at the street corner. That’s what EDJX achieves.

This region has been perfect for an early-stage company. It’s a relatively low-cost part of the country to build a business. There’s an abundance of talent and it’s very strategically located to major hubs like Atlanta and Chicago and New York with a Tier 1 airport. It’s a perfect migration point if you’re coming out of Silicon Valley.

  1. What is your favorite coffee spot?

Well, right now it’s the Nespresso machine in my kitchen. Prior to the COVID-19 scenario, I spent a lot of time at the coffee shop at Raleigh Times downtown as well as the coffee shop Jubala.

  1. What keeps you up at night?

Missing the window of opportunity that we’ve worked so hard to create. When you’re an early-stage company and you create disruptive tech and innovative tech, you create this window of opportunity to do something very special in the market. But that window of opportunity is always finite.

A lot of circumstances dictate how long that window will stay open. It’s a constant thought of when is the window going to close or what’s the duration that we have in order to execute this plan. Wanting to move fast and wanting to accelerate things while being patient and diligent and allowing things to mature and grow as they need to do in the markets is something that is constantly on my mind.

  1. What is your favorite restaurant or happy hour?

I enjoy a lot of the more modern cafes that have sprung up. I’m a huge fan of Happy + Hale. If we’re meeting for cocktails or drinks or beer, mainstays like the Yard House.

  1. What is next for you or your organization?

The expansion of the things that we brought out into the market. You’re going to see a lot of subsequent announcements about the growth of the ecosystem. They will shed more light on how our tech is being used and how it is so transformative for IoT.

About Brooks Malone 70 Articles
Brooks Malone is a NC CPA and Partner with Hughes Pittman & Gupton, LLP, and leads the Technology practice group. Brooks is also listed contributor to the National Fast Trac Tech Curriculum that was funded by the Kauffman Foundation. Brooks was named one of the 40 Under 40 in May 2005 by the TBJ, received the Outstanding service to Entrepreneurs Award in 2008 by CED, and named to the Leadership Raleigh Hall of Fame in October 2011. Brooks is a graduate of North Carolina State University and is active at American Underground and Raleigh Founded.