Every week, I discuss the near future with a brilliant mind. This week, I discuss how quantum computing can become a commercial reality, with Chris Monroe, Chief Scientist and Co-Founder of IonQ, and Peter Chapman, IonQ’s CEO.
IonQ is the first pure-play quantum computing company to go public. Their quantum solutions are available to all via cloud. We discuss the origins of the business, the technology, and future development. To hear my full discussion, listen to us here.
Below is an excerpt from my conversation.
Azeem Azhar: Chris, you founded the company in 2015 and you were probably still consider yourself to be an academic, a scientist. We’ve become used to hearing about how research scientists are turning into entrepreneurs, but it’s not an obvious transition. Did it come easily to you or did you have doubts?
Chris Monroe: I always have doubts. The reason it happened in my case is a little bit of luck, but also my colleague, close collaborator, the co-founder of IonQ, Jungsang Kim. He is a little more naturally entrepreneurial. But we were both interested in the same thing from different perspectives. We clearly saw that together we could do a lot more than double what each of us could do individually. We always thought this could be viable technology for a real product, but it was very research-driven.
Jungsang Kim and Chris Monroe, Co-Founders, IonQ
Azeem Azhar: I read one of your papers, the Scaling the Iron Trap Quantum Processor, and I recall that you described that one of your early investors read that paper, thought it was quite a business plan-like and hunted you down. And I’ve read it as well. And I have to say, it’s a readable paper on quantum computing, which is not really my own domain. So it seems like even back in 2013, you were describing the problem in a way that allowed it to be seen as commercially viable.
Chris Monroe: We knew how to pull off every little piece individually in a laboratory setting with a bunch of students turning knobs. But we didn’t know is how the thing would behave as an entire system, as a computer is. It’s a big, complex system. So it was surprising that this this investor named Harry Weller, who was a high flying venture capitalist came in and said, this paper reads like a business plan. My first reaction was: nobody comes in and says that. But we later got to know who he is, probably the top VC on the East Coast. So it was it was very interesting that that was another bit of luck in a way.
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