Tom Atwood was one of the principal players in the mid'90's effort to create object database
management systems. The two US companies that IPO'd were ODI and Versant.
Tom was the founder and chairmain of Object Design Inc. (IODI), and introduced the technical
founder of Versant to the venture firm that eventually led their west-coast-based first round.
Back on the east coast, ODI's investor group was led by the venture capital arm of Harvard
University's endownment. It eventually expanded to include top tier venture firms like NEA
and Brentwood, as well as corporate investors IBM, Intel and AT&T. ODI was the market share
leader of that era with 30% market share, about twice that of its closest competitors.
ODI went public in 1997, and reached a $1B market cap..
Mr. Atwood moved to San Francisco after ODI went public to raise kids and race sailboats.
He did some angel investing, and got involved with early stage companies — both in their initial
formation and in turnaround/redirection of VC-funded companies that had gone astray.
When the W3C finalized its recommendations for representing the meaning of information in the web,
OWL, in 2006, he began thinking about object databases again.
The OWL standard was essentially a formally precise object model based on one of the 'description
logics' that had emerged out of AI knowledge representation systems in the 90's.
He began looking at object DBMS for research applications in the life sciences:
genomics and proteomics. He and Craig Schaffert, of CLU fame at MIT, have built an
object DBMS based on the OWL standard, focusing on its integration into modern dynamic
object programming languages used in those disciplines, Ruby and Python.
The Ruby version of the DBMS will be released as an open-soure project this fall.