• World Biz Magazine

PETER CHAPMAN, CEO OF IONQ - INTERVIEW WITH WBM TOP 100 INNOVATION CEO




PETER CHAPMAN, CEO OF IONQ HAS BEEN SELECTED BY THE JUDGES OF WORLD BIZ MAGAZINE'S ANNUAL AWARDS TO BE A RECIPIENT OF THE TOP 100 CEOS IN INNOVATION AWARD 2021. THIS SELECTION FOLLOWS A STRINGENT PROCESS THAT EVALUATED OVER 40,000 NOMINEES TO SELECT THE EXCLUSIVE LIST OF 100 WINNERS.


Peter Chapman is President and CEO of IonQ, the leader in universal quantum computing. Previously, Peter was Director of Engineering for Amazon Prime. He has over 40 years of leadership in software engineering, from when he began his career at 16 working with Marvin Minsky in the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab. Shortly after the sale of his last company, Peter came out of an early retirement to help build tools for the blind at the helm of Ray Kurzweil's company, K-NFB Reading Technologies.


Peter has had a lifelong interest in AI and one of the reasons he joined IonQ is because he believes that quantum computing may have an important part in solving Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and many other important problems facing mankind.





"I have dedicated my career to working on complicated issues to assist the public, and took this personal mission to an entirely new level when I stepped into my role as CEO and President of IonQ in 2019. Most recently, IonQ became the first publicly-traded, pure-play quantum computing company."

"At IonQ, we are changing the trajectory of quantum computing, establishing partnerships with all of the leading cloud organizations and subsequently bringing the power of quantum to the public much faster than originally predicted by experts. To me, IonQ is a capstone--a perfect blend of my interests in cutting-edge technology and creating a lasting impact to improve society."


Please share some insight into your background and your mission.

I have always taken great pride in being a problem solver, a trailblazer and a doer. I first entered the world of computing at 16 years old when I began working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Artificial Intelligence Lab alongside renowned computer scientists and mentors, Marvin Minsky and Seymour Papert, on logo programming.


After leaving MIT, I became an entrepreneur and founded a number of startups in the 1980s and 1990s, including Level Systems and Boston Compliance Systems. Upon selling these companies, I have dedicated my career to technology endeavors that I find personally meaningful and important to the world, such as my work with K-NFB Reading Technologies, an organization that developed tools to assist the blind. More recently, I joined Amazon as a director of engineering, where I led the tech giant’s delivery experience for its one-of-a-kind Prime subscription service.


I have dedicated my career to working on complicated issues to assist the public, and took this personal mission to an entirely new level when I stepped into my role as CEO and President of IonQ in 2019. Most recently, IonQ became the first publicly-traded, pure-play quantum computing company. At IonQ, we are changing the trajectory of quantum computing, establishing partnerships with all of the leading cloud organizations and subsequently bringing the power of quantum to the public much faster than originally predicted by experts. To me, IonQ is a capstone--a perfect blend of my interests in cutting-edge technology and creating a lasting impact to improve society.



What excites you about your work in your industry?


Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated by computers. I first entered the world of computing at 16 years old when I began working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Artificial Intelligence Lab alongside renowned computer scientist and mentor, Marvin Minsky on logo programming.


After leaving MIT, I became an entrepreneur and founded a number of startups in the 1980s and 1990s, including Level Systems and Boston Compliance Systems. I always strive to find new ways to help benefit others, and the challenge of making a new product a reality invigorates me. Upon selling these companies, I have dedicated my career to technology endeavors that I find personally meaningful and important to the world, such as my work with K-NFB Reading Technologies, an organization that developed tools to assist the blind. More recently, I joined Amazon as a director of engineering, where I led the tech giant’s delivery experience for its one of-a-kind Prime subscription service.


Overall, I become excited about my work whenever I know that its results are going to be applied to resolving complicated issues that affect the public.



Share with us some of IonQ's recent achievements.


Within the past year, IonQ has had a number of key successes — most notably being our $2 billion SPAC merger to become a publicly-listed company. IonQ’s shift from a private to a publicly traded company signaled the profound potential of our company to solve the world’s most complex problems across industries and issues such as financial services, pharmaceuticals, and even climate change.


In addition to the public listing, we have recently achieved numerous partnerships and scientific advancements that have paved the way for the industry. Last month, IonQ announced the first national quantum lab (Q-Lab) at the University of Maryland, teamed up with Goldman Sachs and QC Ware to use quantum algorithms in Monte Carlo simulations, launched a partnership with GE Research to apply quantum computing to risk analysis, and more.



Share with us some examples of how innovation is fostered at IonQ.


As a trail-blazing company in a nascent industry, IonQ is innovating on a daily basis. Just last month, IonQ introduced the industry’s first Reconfigurable Multi Core Quantum Architecture (RMQA) technology, demonstrating a clear path to scaling modular quantum computers. We believe this latest invention lays the foundation for increases to qubit count into the triple digits on a single chip, which will enable quantum computers to solve increasingly complex business problems.


Another example of IonQ’s innovation at work is our recent breakthrough in error correction technology for quantum computers. In collaboration with scientists from Duke University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, the IonQ team demonstrated for the first time how our systems can overcome computing errors, a key technical obstacle to large-scale quantum use cases like financial market prediction or drug discovery.


Though IonQ has been trailblazing through scientific advancements and commercialization milestones, we believe our company alone cannot and should not dictate what the next wave of innovation looks like. Instead, we work tirelessly to facilitate broad innovation on top of our leading hardware by opening access to IonQ computers via the cloud. This approach is fundamentally different from other companies in the quantum computing space who restrict access to their hardware, and we are convinced it will yield rewards of innovation and creativity for years to come.



"IonQ is not just elevating our industry--we’re building it from scratch. Recently, the company became the first-ever publicly traded pure-play quantum computing company, paving the path for other large financings for quantum startups. Infusing fresh capital into our rapidly-growing company catapulted IonQ even closer to providing a widely-available, commercialized quantum computer."


How is IonQ elevating the quantum industry?


IonQ is not just elevating our industry--we’re building it from scratch. Recently, the company became the first-ever publicly traded pure-play quantum computing company, paving the path for other large financings for quantum startups. Infusing fresh capital into our rapidly-growing company catapulted IonQ even closer to providing a widely-available, commercialized quantum computer.


Furthermore, IonQ is elevating the quantum computing industry via our recent scientific advancements. Last month, we announced the first national quantum lab (Q-Lab) at the University of Maryland, worked with UMD and Duke University to demonstrate fault tolerant error correction, teamed up with Goldman Sachs and QC Ware to use quantum algorithms in Monte Carlo simulations, launched a partnership with GE Research to apply quantum computing to risk analysis, and more. Additionally, IonQ’s latest trapped ion system outperformed all other devices tested in benchmarks. With each new advancement, the company is making quantum computing technology more applicable to the world’s greatest challenges.



Who are your customers and why do they choose IonQ?


IonQ works with top-tier research institutions, Fortune 50 companies and government agencies. Across the board, customers prefer to work with IonQ because we offer the most powerful, cutting-edge quantum computers on the market. Customers recognize that the combination of our hardware and best-in-class applications research team can help them solve meaningful problems that are otherwise un-addressable. We’re also the most accessible quantum computer company to boot, with our systems available on all three major clouds. Evidence of our value comes in the form of our contract bookings, for which we tripled expectations this year. We see in these customer agreements a clear demonstration of the rising need for quantum computing and, in particular, compute powered by IonQ.



"Though we have been trailblazing through scientific advancements and commercialization milestones, we believe the company cannot and should not dictate what the next wave of quantum-powered innovation looks like. Instead, we believe IonQ should broadly facilitate innovation on top of our peerless hardware by enabling public access over the cloud."


Why is IonQ's approach crucially important to your field?


As a leader in a field that is still taking form, IonQ’s approach is integral to the future of the industry. Our advancements are paving the way for the future of our company, our competitors, and science at-large. Take, for instance, our introduction of the industry’s first Reconfigurable Multi Core Quantum Architecture (RMQA) technology, a breakthrough in quantum computing. Starting with the demonstration of 4 chains of 16 ions each that can be dynamically configured into quantum computing cores, we believe it has laid the foundation for increases to qubit count into the triple digits on a single chip, substantially increasing the potential power of our quantum computers.


Another example is our recent breakthrough as the first group to demonstrate fault tolerant error correction technology for quantum computers. In collaboration with scientists from Duke University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, this work showed for the first time how quantum computers can overcome quantum computing errors, a key technical obstacle to large scale use cases like financial market prediction or drug discovery.


Though we have been trailblazing through scientific advancements and commercialization milestones, we believe the company cannot and should not dictate what the next wave of quantum-powered innovation looks like. Instead, we believe IonQ should broadly facilitate innovation on top of our peerless hardware by enabling public access over the cloud. This approach is fundamentally different from other companies in the quantum computing space, and we believe this unique thinking will allow IonQ to reap rewards of innovation and creativity for years to come.


Unlike any of our competitors, all major quantum software tools are compatible with IonQ’s hardware, so you don’t need to learn a new language to work on our computers. We are also available on all three major cloud vendors, so there’s no need to swap from one to another to leverage quantum. We are making this technology available to as many people as possible, faster than anyone else.



What drives you as an innovation leader?


What drives me most in leadership is being able to help people through tough times and creating a space where they can stay and grow and learn. Some of my proudest accomplishments include building companies where employees stay for 25 years after I’ve left, because they are representative of me having built a sustainable business that prioritizes the employee experience.


I think leadership is all about conveying your excitement about the mission, and my best days are in conference rooms working on the ground with my team, be that designing new system requirements with our product managers or discussing how to accomplish a new technical feat with our engineering team. I believe this energy spills over to sales—if a customer sees excitement about your product, it's infectious.


Moving beyond my employees, I believe leaders need to provide this level of care and empathy to the general public as well. We at IonQ know and understand that quantum computing can have a positive impact on society, and this knowledge helps me push the company further each day to put forth industry-leading technology in our quantum systems. By doing this, we can continue to prove the key stepping stones that will allow us to scale into the quantum future.



"IonQ was founded not just with a mission to create the world’s most powerful quantum computers, but also with an intent to employ those computers to address the world’s most complex challenges."


How will IonQ improve the lives of the wider public?


IonQ was founded not just with a mission to create the world’s most powerful quantum computers, but also with an intent to employ those computers to address the world’s most complex challenges. We are still in early stages of developing quantum algorithms, but in the near future envision them tackling projects ranging from battery efficiency and drug discovery to logistics routing and aircraft manufacturing optimization that will cut down on fuel emissions. The potential of quantum computing to have a positive impact on society is one of the key reasons that Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures invested in our recent PIPE transaction. Even as a small company, we are committed to helping build a more sustainable world.



What improvements do you want to see in the quantum industry?


The quantum industry is still in its infancy, but IonQ is leading the charge on bringing quantum to the broad market. We strive every day to put forth industry-leading technology in our quantum systems, and to prove the key stepping stones that will allow us to scale into the quantum future. Already, we have taken quantum computing from a theory to a tangible, practical means of computing.


The next steps require us to work hand-in-hand with industry partners to further develop the strategic value of quantum for solving complex business problems. The outstanding progress our applications team has made over the past months speaks to those increasingly near-term business opportunities. Moreover, we have an obligation as industry leaders to make quantum accessible and build the quantum workforce, which we are doing with our academic partners (ex. the University of Maryland), via our pioneering Research Credits Program, and by making IonQ computers available over the cloud. There is much work to be done, but we are confident that IonQ can catalyze the maturation of the quantum industry.



"The importance of quantum computing is unmatched when it comes to business transformation because it applies to a multitude of industries. For example, we are still in the early stages of developing quantum algorithms, but in the near future envision them tackling projects ranging from battery efficiency and drug discovery to logistics routing and aircraft manufacturing optimization that will cut down on fuel emissions."


What technologies do you expect will transform business in the near future?


There is no better answer here than quantum computers. The importance of quantum computing is unmatched when it comes to business transformation because it applies to a multitude of industries. For example, we are still in the early stages of developing quantum algorithms, but in the near future envision them tackling projects ranging from battery efficiency and drug discovery to logistics routing and aircraft manufacturing optimization that will cut down on fuel emissions.


Moreover, quantum computing’s capabilities are already being explored in industries ranging from finance to risk management, where organizations such as Goldman Sachs, Fidelity Investments, and GE have collaborated with IonQ to develop quantum applications.


Ultimately, quantum computing is the transformation technology that will define the next decade, and its positive impact on society will be of crucial importance in the years to come.



What makes a good leader?


To me, being a business leader is about more than successfully conveying a vision and driving business outcomes; leadership requires empathy and a desire to put one’s employees first. Some of my proudest accomplishments include building companies where employees stay for 25 years after I’ve left, because they are representative of me having built a sustainable business that prioritizes the employee experience.


At Amazon, I was lucky to lead a group with one of the best retention rates in the company, and IonQ has had a remarkably low attrition rate. Being able to help people through tough times and creating a space where they can stay and grow and learn underpins what I prioritize as a leader.


As a leader at IonQ, my best days are spent with my sleeves rolled up, working with engineers on a new quantum computer, product managers on tackling new features, or our business teams to bring IonQ to market. I also view leadership as something infectious--when you’re enthusiastic about your company and your product, that radiates throughout your team, your business partnerships, and your customer relationships.



IonQ

Building the world’s best quantum computers to solve the world’s most complex problems.

Quantum computers are a revolutionizing technology — they have the potential to transform business, society, and the planet for the better, and IonQ is at the forefront of this revolution.


After over 25 years of academic research, IonQ was founded in 2015 by Chris Monroe and Jungsang Kim with $2 million in seed funding from New Enterprise Associates, a license to core technology from the University of Maryland and Duke University, and the goal of taking trapped ion quantum computing out of the lab and into the market. In the following three years, we raised an additional $20 million from GV, Amazon Web Services, and NEA, and built two of the world’s most accurate quantum computers.


In 2019, we raised another $55 million in a round led by Samsung and Mubadala, and announced partnerships with Microsoft and Amazon Web Services to make our quantum computers available via the cloud.


In 2020 and 2021, we built additional generations of high performance quantum hardware, added Google Cloud Marketplace to our cloud partner roster and announced a series of collaborations and business partnerships with leading academic and commercial institutions.


On October 1st, 2021, IonQ began trading as IONQ on the New York Stock Exchange, making it the world's first public pure-play quantum computing company. We remain hard at work realizing the world-changing potential of quantum computing.


www.ionq.com