May 24, 2022 | 8 min read

Newsletter: May 2022

The Elon Factor

The Elonification of Automation

 

Elon Musk's messaging around his offer for Twitter has inspired a meme parodying his 'Now I'm going to buy x and do y' social media. An intriguing post parodied him buying Rockwell and putting MQTT on their hardware.

 

While one can argue the merits of messaging protocols, the thought of someone like Elon disrupting automation is worth exploring.

 

When you consider the broad leaps in disruptive innovation that Elon's companies, Tesla and SpaceX have respectively brought to automobiles, and space travel and communications (Momenta is a StarLink client), it's only a matter of time before every major industry is likely to have its digital disruptor. When will this happen for industrial automation, and from where will it come?

 

We've long-explored this question in our Digital Industry investment themes and growth strategy engagements. Several of our recent investments already provide clues given the automation innovation already in play in Musk's factories. In short, the focus is on agility; quickly provisioning manufacturing systems to support short runs of customized products. In other words, DevOps for industrial systems supporting the 'economical lot of one'.

 

This is where the disruption potential becomes apparent with factory operations requiring 'cloud-like' flexible provisioning and management models for software but against a backdrop of traditional fixed-function industrial hardware and systems. We call this opportunity space the Hyper-Converged Edge (HCE); highly distributed and fault-tolerant industrial software that provides 'cloudification of the edge', a critical infrastructure for manufacturing agility.

 

While this informs more than answers our question, the 'why' and 'where' are salient. For 'who', watch our Momenta portfolio and partners.

 


Momenta is the leading Digital Industry venture capital firm accelerating digital innovators across energy, manufacturing, smart spaces, and supply chain. Led by deep industry operators across its venture capital, strategic advisory, and executive search practices, Momenta has made over 50 investments with notable exits to SAP, PTC, and Husqvarna.

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