Industry Spotlight: Quantum Corridor CEO Tom Dakich

April 15th, 2024 by · Leave a Comment

The word Quantum is a bit of a unique buzzword in that what it means for the future is simultaneously more revolutionary and poorly understood than usual.  But that doesn’t mean it isn’t time to take action to get involved in some form.  With us today is Tom Dakich, founder and CEO of Quantum Corridor, which is building a network meant to connect quantum computers to each other and to the resources they need.  Tom previously helped found and build Digital Crossroad, the new data center in Hammond, Indiana.

TR: What is your background and how did you get involved in the fiber infrastructure and data center business?

TD: I have been an attorney for almost 40 years.  In the late 80s I read an article in the Continental Airlines magazine saying telecommunications was going to be a big deal in the 90s.  I took my law practice in that direction, getting introductions, talking to people, and attending and speaking at every conference I could.  I learned about the industry and its legal issues, and picked up some clients.  At one point I owned a DMS 500 switch at 15 W 37th Street in Manhattan with a couple of other guys before 9/11. 

In 2010 I helped one of my best buddies sell his company.  He made $22M and I walked away with $400K, and I decided I wanted to be on his side of things.  I’m from Northwest Indiana, and my orientation is to try to find ways to help Indiana. I had done deals all over, but not in Indiana.  So in 2017 Peter Feldman and I decided to go figure it out, and we built Digital Crossroad.   I am still a shareholder and one of the general partners of Digital Crossroad, and the team that has taken over operations has done a great job making it go forward.

TR: How did that lead to the founding of Quantum Corridor?

TD: When we built Digital Crossroad, we laid a bunch of fiber between Indiana and 350 Cermak in Chicago.  By putting that fiber in, we were able to connect Indiana to downtown Chicago in a way that had never been connected before.  We then took that fiber and with the help of Ex2 we extended it down the toll road all the way out to the state of Ohio.  We have tried to make it tailor-made to the best and rightest companies and investors in the world. 

TR: What makes Quantum Corridor’s network different?

TD: Today when your airplane lands and you hear ‘ding’, everybody stands up and then waits in line to get off the plane.  They then file out of one hole and onto a people mover that goes to the baggage claim.  There is a lot of waiting, a lot of inefficiency.  What we’ve done at Quantum Corridor is to create a really big people mover that transfers people from the plane seat to the the baggage claim.  Everyone can get off the plane at the same time, as if the sides of the plane were ripped off.  It’s a fiber network from the first quantum computer to the next quantum computer enabling them to communicate instantaneously, without added latency or redundancy. Our theory is that the capacity of the computing that’s being built is going to get to the point that this is necessary.

TR: What technology underlies it? 

TD: In 2022 Ciena, JP Morgan Chase, and Toshiba got together and created a quantum-secured 800Gbps optical network.  We saw it and threw a little bit of money at trying to make it work with the help of our partner Converge One.  The state of Indiana gave us a $4M grant, we matched it with $4m of our own, and raised some more.  It’s just better and, which is why we are having some traction with companies and universities.

TR: Why focus on quantum computing?

TD: Whoever wins the quantum computing race will control the world until somebody else figures it out.  We are using our personal resources, that of like-minded investors and of the state of Indiana to make it so those quantum computers being development can share data as they compete.  I’m not a STEM guy, but I do have the ability to put things together and get the right people in the room and getting them to talk.  By putting fiber between these quantum computing efforts, we’re doing the same thing.  It’s worth it to help these quantum computers communicate.  The goal is to create a quantum network that could be used by people who aren’t in the quantum world but can help solve real issues?

TR: What such participants would you look to add to the ecosystem?

TD:  There are biotech companies out there that are creating enough data that they need to communicate and process that we can help by making our network available.  They aren’t necessarily quantum questions, but rather are research questions and classical computing questions. 

People are working on things like detecting the markers of cancer before the cells begin to mutate.  We were at a conference recently where somebody presented an idea how to slow down the growth and the degradation of cells.  That might extend the lifespan of a cell, and make it so that we can age slower. 

TR: Now that you have this initial route in place, what other endpoints do you want to reach in the near future?

TD: Our first priority is getting more fiber into key locations in downtown Chicago.  The University of Illinois is an important research institution, and we’d like to be down there.  We are going to go to Purdue in West Lafayette where they are doing some amazing research.  We also intend to head down to Crane Naval Warfare Base in southern Indiana, which is doing a lot of important work.  Getting Crane up to Cermak and to the University of Chicago is an important part of our mission.

We have also been approached to go out to San Diego and do some work on the Space Corridor along I-4.  They have a lot of data down there too. 

TR: What makes the Midwest an ideal place for this kind of infrastructure?

TD: There’s so much quantum research in and around Chicagoland going on. And we are lucky enough to have two governors, Eric Holcomb of Indiana and J.B. Pritzker of Illinois who really get this.  We will go over into Columbus, Ohio next, as they have some great researchers over there too.  We have also been talking to the people in charge of the university system over in Michigan.

TR: How do you get politicians in today’s environment to talk about a topic as difficult as quantum computing and networking?

TD: I spend a lot of time talking to politicians — congressmen, senators, people in the administration, people from different agencies.  I don’t know why anybody would think that, people at the federal level are anything other than diligent, hard-working realists.  Before a meeting I send over a little bit of reading, and I’ve never had anybody not read it.  They come in briefed. 

TR: What’s holding things back?

TD: The issue is that it’s difficult to make money in quantum computing.  It’s evolving so quickly that there’s a lot of resistance to putting money into it when you can just put money into data center infrastructure and get a known return.  What we are trying to do is take the politicians, the data center people, the quantum research people the quantum commercialization people, and the biotech people and put them into one big soup.  We want to marry them together and make sure the government understands it, and I think there’s a business there. 

TR: How can we find the winners before quantum computing technologies hit the mainstream?

TD: There will be companies that look amazing today who aren’t going to get there.  Maybe they don’t have the money, or maybe they are resting on their laurels.  But at the end of the day there are a lot of investors out there like me who are looking for solutions to quantum computing questions.  We want our groups to house them and we want to nurture them.  We want them in our data centers using a bit of power and space and a whole lot of connectivity.  Everyone has dot com losers, but some of those losers didn’t have to lose.  They just needed better, smarter people to nurture them, and we want to be that group.  We’re agnostic, except that we’re not going to support companies that might be against the interests of the United States of course.

TR: When do you think this revolution will become reality?

TD: Here are two predictions for 10 years from now.  1) The world’s first trillionaire will make it off of quantum computing.  I don’t know if it’s a kid sitting in a lab in China, Peru, or New Jersey, but that person is alive today. 2) Someone alive today will live to be 200 years old.  Quantum computing will enable super-intelligent people to do amazing things.

TR: Thank you for talking with Telecom Ramblings!

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Categories: Industry Spotlight · Quantum

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