With $5.4M, Ayla Networks builds an internet of things platform with close ties to the chip world

I’ve covered at least seven internet of things platforms in the last few months and talked to even more, but I’ve been excited about Ayla Networks for a while, mostly because it has an interesting team that comes from hardware, wireless and consumer-product backgrounds. The company, which launches today with $5.4 million in first round funding from Voyager Capital and Crosslink Capital, has executives that bring together the hardware, connectivity, business models and data elements from several successful devices and companies.

The product is a platform for hosting connected devices, much like Electric Imp, ThingWorx, Carriots, Xively, Thingsquare and others. However, it’s a bit different in that the Ayla executives went to the major chip firms such as Broadcom and STMicroelectronics to ensure that software supporting the Ayla platform is embedded on the chips that Ayla customers would buy to add connectivity to their devices.

Thingsquare has similar promises and Electric Imp actually provides its own hardware to companies, so the Ayla devotion to the hardware side of things isn’t entirely new. It also has device discoverability, the ability to hook multiple devices on the Ayla cloud together in one application and other features aimed at making the end consumer experience easy.

But Ayla isn’t targeting the consumer. Instead, it’s hoping that large companies adopt the service to add connectivity to their own products. It might be a connected microwave that can report back to the manufacturer that a part is wearing out, or it might be a personal activity monitor built by an athletic clothing company.

The platform is already in use in China, where SINA, a media network that includes the Sina.com portal and Weibo.com, a microblogging network, is using Wi-Fi-based weather sensors hosted on Ayla’s network to create a personalized weather network for users. David Friedman (pictured above, on the left), the CEO of Ayla and a former executive at ZeroG Wireless, is a big believer in the connected future and shared data used to build unique services. Ayla is his answer to the problems that currently stand in the way of building those services.

It’s a vision several entrepreneurs have had, and one that VCs have generously funded. Ayla’s team could help it span the gaps between devices, networks and the cloud, but it’s still playing in a pretty frothy sector. Ayla’s founders include Adrian Caceres (pictured above, on the right), who worked at Amazon’s Lab126, where he was technical lead for the networking capabilities of the Amazon Kindle; Philip Chang, who previously helped establish a presence for ZeroG Wireless in China; Friedman; and Thomas Lee, a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University who has helped create companies such as Matrix Semiconductor. Perhaps they will be the team that really nails this opportunity.

Updated: The article has been changed to reflect that Ayla has a partnership with Broadcom and STMicroelectronics, not Texas Instruments, as was originally reported.