Jonathan Schwartz's new business is a Picture of Health

Most places have better access to the Internet than to clean water: let's use it to improve public health, says Schwartz

Jonathan Schwartz ended six months of silence on his Twitter feed on Thursday with the words "Started a new company."

The new company, Informed Biometry, aims to improve public health by developing Web-based software for consumers -- because "Most places on Earth, the Internet is more accessible than electricity, clean water, or basic sanitation."

That software will draw heavily on large public data sets to achieve its goals, if Schwartz's other remarks are anything to go by.

The idea is not new -- there are already a number of iPhone apps that apply public data to improve users' health -- but Informed Biometry talks of taking that approach a global audience.

Informed Biometry has a website at www.pictureofhealth.com and offices in Seattle, San Francisco, and, well, wherever its employees choose to work.

The company is hiring -- "Math geeks preferred," said Schwartz -- but for now there are just two employees: Schwartz as CEO, and former Microsoft employee Walter Smith as CTO.

Smith worked on development of Windows and Internet Explorer at Microsoft, and before that at Apple, helping develop the Newton operating system. More recently he co-founded Jackson Fish Market, a small Seattle-based software design company. Schwartz, of course, was previously CEO of Sun Microsystems, until its acquisition by Oracle.

Schwartz and Smith want you to get in touch if you're a "software generalist" or a design director -- but not if you're a venture capitalist. The company is already "well financed" and "100 percent employee-owned," according to its profile on the business networking website LinkedIn.

Oracle's acquisition of Sun was almost derailed by the control this would have given Oracle over its own proprietary SQL-based database software, and over the open-source database MySQL that Sun owned.

While Informed Biometry is all about data, Schwartz clearly wants to move away from both those database products in this sequel to his software career: Informed Biometry's vacancies page says it is seeking developers who "know how and when to use ... Postgresql" and who "are intrigued by NoSQL but think it’s a dumb name." NoSQL is a term often used to describe non-relational distributed data stores that do not have a SQL (Structured Query Language) interface.

It was with a haiku that Schwartz announced his departure from Sun -- Financial crisis/Stalled too many customers/CEO no more -- and there's something poetic about the way Schwartz and Smith describe their new company's values: "We value quality of thought, and quality of execution./In product design, and dinner."

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

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Tags internetbusiness issuese-healthsoftwareSun MicrosystemspersonnelJonathan SchwartzInformed BiometryPicture of Health

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Peter Sayer

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
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