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‘Disruptive IoT startup’ Pycom: New chairman is Aussie tech legend

Pioneering and respected cutting-edge communications entrepreneur, David Stewart, continues his stunningly successful journey of achievement and leadership by becoming Pycom’s new chairman.

A former Netcomm chief executive, Stewart is a well known Australian telecommunications pioneer, involved in modems from the 300bps days though to working with Australia’s NBN Co on cutting edge broadband technologies.

Indeed, 2016 saw Stewart awarded the highest honour in the Australian communications space — the Communications Ambassador 2016 Award — presented by ACOMMS Communications Alliance and CommsDay for his significant and valuable contribution to the Australian communications industry.

An entrepreneur and CEO for more than 30 years, Stewart founded Banksia Technology in 1988 and successfully managed the company as a fast-growing and highly profitable business. In 1996, he instigated the successful takeovers of a number of his competitors and then assumed the role of managing director of the merged entity and remains the single largest shareholder.

Of course, it’s not just Australian communications that Stewart is known for, as his work has spread globally, with Netcomm impressively supplying telecommunications companies in countries across the globe.

Although Stewart retired from Netcomm in December 2016, while remaining a strategic adviser to Netcomm, it was never his intention to just lie on a beach. Indeed, he has spent the last six months travelling around the world.

He has now moved into the second stage of his plan, which was to transition from day-to-day management of one of the world’s foremost telecommunications and networking companies, to joining a number of boards (of both public and private companies) and act as a strategic adviser. The announcement by Pycom today is the first of a number that will happen over the next year.

This, of course, leads us to wonder what Pycom does, and why it caught the eye of a man who has been a leader in modems, broadband, fixed wireless, wireless M2M and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices amongst many other achievements over the decades.

Well, the new company that Stewart has just been appointed chairman of is Pycom.

Pycom explains that it “enables and inspires everyone to be an inventor”, and is “often referred to as an IoT rebel".

The company says it is “unapologetic in challenging conventional IoT” since launching in January 2016, and has “gone on to introduce an LPWAN-based full-stack IoT portfolio consisting of 5 ESP32 based development boards WiPy, LoPy, SiPy, GPy and FiPy and a matching set of OEM modules all of which offer multi-network (incl. LoRa, Sigfox and LTE-M (NB-IoT/CAT-M1), low energy IoT deployments at the edge of the network".

It’s the kind of cutting-edge technology that would catch the eye of a cutting-edge entrepreneur like Stewart, and clearly, there was plenty of mutual chemistry in getting Pycom’s team and Stewart together.

Pycom also proudly boasts its “common MicroPython firmware stack is open source and is supported by a full IoT stack including LPWAN network access through a multitude of network partners, the Pymakr Suite of IDE Plugins and the Pymate Mobile App as well as Pybytes, the free middleware platform and desktop application (with Pybytes coming very soon)".

Indeed, Pycom has serious ambitions, aiming to “disrupt the IoT industry daring to deliver IoT solutions differently and this encourages the company's rapidly growing global community of hobbyist and professional developers — all of whom are looking to deploy great-value, enterprise-grade connected solutions — to #GOINVENT".

With that introduction to Pycom out of the way, we learn that Stewart succeeds Ko Chia who, after a year on Pycom's board and almost a year as chairman, announced in May his decision to step down while remaining on the board of directors to continue his support for the growth of the company.

Pycom’s growth has been impressive, following “a year and a half stint of building the startup from scratch and with recent achievements including the development and market introduction of an IoT hardware portfolio; as well as associated full-stack cloud-based software applications; as well as a growing 60k+ developer community earning the company a nomination as 'Cool Vendor' by Gartner; as well as a shortlisting as one of TechCrunch-sponsored TheEuropas hottest ‘IoT Tech Startups in Europe’.”

Naturally, Pycom is thrilled to welcome Stewart onto the board, with the company’s chief executive Fred de Haro stating: "David is the best chairman Pycom could wish for. He has a strong record in both managing and chairing Telecoms hardware and IoT related businesses, a deep understanding of life in high growth startup operations and a strong alignment with our ethos, culture and commitment to serving our growing community of developers. We are delighted that he has accepted the role.”

Stewart himself said that "Pycom represents my passion. The team is working right in the melting pot of startup business and serve the hottest tech market today with innovative technology. It's a path I understand very well and so when I met the founding team I decided to take the challenge to help them grow to their full potential. It's been a great journey so far."

Here is the video Netcomm produced to celebrate Stewart’s industry recognition and honour when being appointed the ACOMM Communications Ambassador 2016 Award:

For the award, which saw John Stanton, chief executive, Communications Alliance, present Stewart with the prestigious Communications Ambassador award, Stanton said: "He's a man who's been in the industry for more than 30 years. He is somebody who has overseen some of the strongest product and technology innovation in Australia and has always been a great supporter of Australian IT professionals, and of manufacturing.

"He has been, for a period of three decades, a very consistent, strong innovator and contributor to the health of our sector and the creation of jobs in the industry," concluded Stanton.

Thus, we now expect great things from Pycom, and wish De Haro, the Pycom team and Stewart the best in pushing IoT forward for the benefit of us all!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.