Sequoia Capital and former Stripe exec Lachy Groom led the Series A round, which will fuel growth for the company’s technology that helps product manufacturers send data from their physical assets to cloud-based apps over cellular networks.
Blues is the latest venture from Ozzie, who invented the Lotus Notes group messaging platform in the 1980s. He later launched and sold two startups to Microsoft: Groove Networks in 2005, and Talko in 2015. He joined Microsoft after the Groove deal, ultimately succeeding Gates as the company’s chief software architect, and helping to lead the launch of Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform.
Blues came out of stealth mode in February 2019, announcing its Notecard device that runs on AT&T’s wireless network. It’s a cellular IoT device that can be embedded into almost any hardware and connect to the internet without relying on WiFi. Developers use the JSON programming language and two lines of code to make it all work.
The goal is to make it easy to get almost anything online — from a refrigerator to a propane tank to HVAC systems — to enable remote management and monitoring.
Part of the novelty is the business model. Blues only charges customers $49 for the module itself, and nothing more after that.
The idea for Blues came from Ozzie’s work as a board director at Safecast, a data monitoring nonprofit that launched in response to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. He tried helping the organization build solar-powered cellular environmental measurement devices, but it was harder than expected. That’s when Ozzie began working with AT&T — he is an advisor to the wireless giant — on what would eventually become the new company.
Blues has many large enterprise customers across industries such as agriculture, automotive, construction, healthcare, retail, and transportation. It is also working with partners to help with hardware engineering and integrating IoT data into apps.
Blues previously raised $11 million in April 2020. XYZ Capital also invested in the Series A round. Blues is a distributed company but most of its 23 employees are in the Boston area. Ozzie also spends a majority of his time in Boston, but still makes frequent trips to Seattle.