Ray Ozzie’s Lotus Notes software arrived just in time to catch the rise of corporate e-mail in the 1980s. Now the entrepreneur and former Microsoft chief software architect has raised money for his latest startup, Blues Wireless, which is trying to catch the 5G market at an early point.
The Beverly company said Monday it had raised $22 million in new backing from venture capital firms Sequoia Capital and XYZ Venture Capital, plus former Stripe executive Lachy Groom, and Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates.
Blues Wireless sells a $49 circuit board, dubbed the Notecard, that customers can add to all kinds of equipment to collect data over a connection to 5G wireless networks. The device could be used to add the capability for remote monitoring of a rooftop HVAC system or irrigation equipment in a farm field, for example.
Wireless carriers like Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile have been rolling out 5G networks over the past few years to provide connection speeds 10 to 100 times faster than older networks. But 5G also allows for many more connections to each wireless cell, opening the door to collecting data from sensors attached to all manner of machines, a trend called the Internet of Things, or IoT. The market for IoT 5G devices could grow to $10 billion by 2030, according to a report last year by McKinsey.
That’s ignited a race to offer connectivity devices like Blues Wireless’s Notecard. The carriers are also developing IoT offerings, along with tech companies like Qualcomm and Ericsson and other startups such as EdgeQ and Particle.
Ozzie has high hopes that Blues gear will proliferate despite the competition. “This funding, combined with our world-class team and investors, will help to accelerate our progress toward connecting billions of customers’ remote assets to the cloud,” he said in a statement.
The company initially raised $11 million in March 2020 from investors including Gates. Ozzie sold his two previous startups to Microsoft, Groove Networks in 2005 and Talko in 2015. Ozzie spent almost six years at Microsoft as chief software architect, starting in 2005 when Gates gave up the role to focus on his foundation.