What is Atoms and Bits?

Welcome! Good to have you here.

My name is Zach Supalla, and I am the CEO of Particle, an integrated (HW/SW) IoT platform. I’ve done the thing that can’t be done - I built a scalable, high-growth, venture-backed start-up that combines hardware and software to solve a problem. I’ve faced all of the challenges of a hardware start-up, and I’ve survived. I’m not the only one by any means - but it is, admittedly, a small crew.

What I haven’t done - what none of us have done - is write down what I’ve learned. The hard-earned lessons, the mistakes made along the way, the experiments that succeeded and failed.

This newsletter - named for an oft-used phrase describing businesses that combine hardware (atoms) and software (bits) - is intended to be a resource for people running or investing in what I’ll call “integrated hardware and software businesses” (“HW/SW businesses” for short). I’ll  answer questions such as:

  • What separates a “good” HW/SW business from a “bad” HW/SW business?

  • How can HW/SW businesses manage and reduce the costs and risks associated with their hardware products?

  • How do you price a HW/SW product?

  • How does a pure hardware business become a HW/SW business? How does a pure software business become a HW/SW business? Should they?

  • Which SaaS metrics can be applied to HW/SW businesses? Which can’t?

Some of these questions I can answer on my own. For others, I’ll be bringing in experts - founders, executives, and investors who play in and around this space. Atoms and Bits will alternate between essays like this one and video interviews with other people who know things that I don’t know.

If you’re interested in following along and seeing what I have to say, smash that subscribe button (that’s what The Kids are saying…is that what The Kids are saying? I don’t know, I’m pushing 40 and my oldest just learned to spell ‘Blue’ pretty recently, so not super dialed-in from a pop-culture perspective) - we’ll be publishing twice a month. And of course, if there are particular questions you’d like me to answer or people you think I should interview, shoot me a DM - I’m @zs on Twitter.

Subscribe to Atoms and Bits

Essays and discussions about hardware/software businesses - how they work, how to run them, and how to scale them. Maybe hardware doesn’t have to be so hard.


Founder/CEO at Particle, enabling the Internet of Things. I make things to make things.