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June 3, 2019

Five Questions with… Cudo Ventures CEO Matt Hawkins

In another life? I'd be an African Grey...

By CBR Staff Writer

Every Monday morning we fire five questions at a C-suite technology industry interviewee. Today we’re pleased to be joined by Cudo Ventures CEO Matt Hawkins.

Matt: What’s the  Biggest Challenge for your Clients?

The biggest challenge for our users is that computer hardware is a wasted asset, worse still an overhead if it’s online and maintained in a data centre. There isn’t an easy way to monetise their computing hardware.

If you’re a crypto currency miner sitting at home in Carolina or Malaysia, the chances are you are just mining for fun – the crypto winter has reduced the profitability of mining to a point where only people who have done their research thoroughly are turning a profit. Despite recent improvements in the crypto market, you’ll still need optimised hardware and good knowledge of the market to make any returns.

cudo ventures ceo

Cudo Ventures CEO Matt Hawkins

For mining farms – often based in locations like China, Canada or Iceland with thousands of GPUs at their disposal – the profitability of mining Ethereum is more dependent their ability to negotiate a better cost per kWh on their energy tariff, rather than predicting the market.

All computing hardware has the capacity for better monetisation and return on investment. Our software, Cudo Miner, helps both amateur and professional mining operations to target their resources at the most profitable crypto asset (coin) for their hardware at any given time. The crypto markets are notoriously volatile, so we help them to optimise their hardware for each mining algorithm and automatically switch that optimised capability to whatever crypto asset makes the best return. This is particularly useful for reacting to the launch of new coins, such as Grin or Ravencoin, as well as hard forks and halving events (when the block reward is changed by the algorithm).

Outside of the crypto markets, cloud and service providers provision hardware to cope with peaks and troughs. 50% of the time, this hardware is not utilised and incurs data centre costs. Our new platform, to be launched next month, provides a marketplace where businesses can sell computing services that utilise these assets optimally and deliver results for end customers – for example, rendering film special effects or training a Tensorflow machine learning model, for a fraction of the cost of using cloud compute power.

Technology that Excites you Most?

Distributed computing – hands down. Despite the huge disruption that cloud computing has brought about, its infrastructure is conventional. A large retailer benefits from economies of scale to negotiate better deals with its providers, bigger logistics warehouses with lower costs, and more automation. I previously owned a hosting business and I would question if the cloud is all that different.

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To offer scale and elasticity, data centres have to build overprovision for physical servers – CPU, GPU, memory, storage – so they can be made available on-demand in every region. That leads to huge amounts of IT waste – even with today’s energy management capabilities, there are idle servers occupying physical space that has to be maintained, cooled, and secured.

There is so much spare computing capacity that could be used, but unfortunately, it’s just not being tapped into. I believe that all computing should be more ethical, and we should be doing everything we can to reduce the impact of computing and technology on the environment.

Distributed computing could revolutionise the way that businesses access compute power,  not only making it more affordable for them, but also helping them to become more sustainable and improve their carbon footprint. Rather than having large data centres that need to use energy to cool down servers before they get too hot, decentralised computing would use the spare compute power of everyone on the network.

Blockchain has shown the world how distributed computing can enable businesses to access global computing resources. I want to see businesses take the latent computing resource available in data centres, offices and homes throughout the world, and use it to provide the scalability and elasticity of cloud to process diverse workloads, such as AI and machine learning, video rendering, and data analytics.

Greatest Success?

My greatest success has to be starting up a data centre and cloud company, C4L, and turning it into a profitable business, which was acquired in 2016. The business was a success – we were running for 16 years and we had over 800 customers at the time of sale, while we were turning over £14 million yearly. We were a small player in the market, but we started before anyone had heard of Amazon Web Services and the business grew to the point where 1 per cent of the entire UK’s internet backbone was powered by our data centres.

The entrepreneur in me loves a new challenge though, and that’s why I moved on from C4L to start Cudo Ventures. I saw an opportunity to build on the business models of Uber or Airbnb to help businesses make better use of their computing resources and to make IT more sustainable. I hope my previous knowledge and expertise will help make Cudo as much of a success as C4L was.

Worst Failure?

Trying to run multiple companies at once. I had a successful data centre and cloud business, so I thought why not build a VoIP business, and why not build a gigabit broadband business.  However, they just became a distraction from my main successful business and, in the end, I ended up closing them down. The biggest thing I learnt from this is that it’s important to focus on one thing and make that one thing great, rather than doing lots of things that are just average.

In Another Life, I’d be…

A bird, like an African Grey, because I think it would be amazing to be able to just fly around.

See also: Five Questions with… BetterCloud CEO David Politis

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