After decades at Intel and years working as an executive in the technology industry, Quantinuum’s new CEO Rajeeb “Raj” Hazra is ready to lead a quantum business and he believes that Quantinuum will be the leader in developing quantum technologies that will create solutions for some of the world’s biggest challenges.
“Where quantum is, that’s where you’ll find Quantinuum,” said Hazra.
The Next Bigger Thing
Hazra has already climbed to the top of the tech field. His CV includes industry giants – such as one of the biggest, Intel – and NASDAQ-listed companies, like Micron.
However, he said that the hunger for working on groundbreaking technologies has always driven his career. Quantum, then, is the next natural step. Hazra also admits that quantum satisfies his “geek” curiosity to be part of the “next bigger thing.”
“That hunger of ‘what’s the next big thing,’ never goes away,” said Hazra. “I have in intervals, asked myself ‘what’s the next big thing,’ not just ‘how can we maintain the current big thing, but what’s the next bigger thing? Working in HPC, fielding the world’s fastest supercomputer and helping build that was all part of that dream. But I was still searching and that geek part of me was still saying, ‘what’s the next bigger thing?’”
He added that quantum is clearly the front-running big thing to get society to the next level of scale of computation – and unleash a number of applications that are impractical with today’s classical computers and even supercomputers.
Hazra was attracted to the position at Quantinuum for several reasons, including the company’s strategy, along with its technological approach and maturity.
Quantinuum employs approximately 480 people. That staff includes an impressive team of scientists and engineers tasked with bringing a full-stack quantum approach to bear on computational challenges in fields as diverse as pharmaceuticals, finance, healthcare, materials science, cybersecurity, energy and climate tech.
“You might think maturity sounds like a strange word in quantum because the whole field is relatively new, but Quantinuum’s methodical maturity in trying to build both the hardware and the software together was a huge attraction,” said Hazra.
The timing is also right. Momentum is building in quantum — probably an understatement — and it’s now time for teams to focus on execution. There is a feeling in the industry that momentum continues to build for Quantinuum, too. Recently, the company reached another milestone in quantum volume, a measure of a quantum computer’s general capability. Quantinuum reported that its H1-1 device achieved a quantum volume of 16,384 (214), and then 32,768 (215). Officials label this achievement a “high-water mark” for a company that has surpassed quantum volume milestones eight times in three years.
“I think another attraction for me was the fact that the time has now come to accelerate value creation and value gathering through commercial success,” said Hazra. “That means, essentially, trying to bring economic value from that research. That’s the goal.”
He added that this is a historic time.
“We are birthing Quantum – this is not even a materialistic desire, it’s to get quantum rolling and democratize eventually the ecosystem,” said Hazra.
Hazra, who earned both his doctoral and master’s degrees in computer science from the College of William and Mary, said there are still substantial technological and engineering challenges to building quantum technology that solves real problems and builds real value.
However, he sees a less obvious – but maybe more important – challenge on how quantum is framed by its practitioners and the public. One concern is that quantum is not understood. If quantum technology is not understood it creates a risk that the technology will be ignored, or not be adopted, said Hazra.
“The other is when it’s misunderstood – and this is one of my bigger concerns – it’s capabilities become overstated. I do see this in the industry – some hype. It’s significant because then it gets a bad reputation. If expectations are irrational, they are not scientifically credible, then you can have a fairly negative reception. I think that is something we at Quantinuum have made a particular mantra, not to drive that hype, but to say, this is what we’re going to do and why we are going to do it.”
First Steps of an Ambitious Journey
New leadership hires often talk about drinking from the firehouse on their first days at work. There is no firehose in the quantum ecosystem quite like Quantinuum – it’s full-stack and global. Still, Hazra said he’s ready to start that journey to accelerate value creation for the company.
He said his first step is to deeply understand the company’s technology, strategy, customer relationships and partnerships, teams, and culture to achieve the company’s goals.
“We have some audacious challenges,” said Hazra. “We’ve laid out the technology roadmaps and continue to build and deepen our engagements with our partners and customers. That opens the door to seeing economic value for a company that I firmly believe will be the most valuable not just quantum, but in technology period.”
Beyond Belief: The Power of Quantum
Hazra said there are already areas where quantum computing is useful, such as Monte Carlo simulations in fintech, modeling behavior of large systems, cryptography and exploring new molecular structures for pharma and bio.
The vast potential for quantum remains the primary reason for investment and interest in the technology. Hazra believes that quantum computing provides more room for problem-solving and can have significant applications in areas of national and societal importance. Security has become increasingly important, and quantum computing can offer secure solutions that were previously thought impossible. Overall, the potential for quantum computing is vast and could revolutionize many fields.
Hazra sees quantum computing as becoming a key tool for high performance computing, but not replacing HPC. He will bring a lot of experience to Quantinuum. He spent 25 years at Intel Corporation, leading the Enterprise and Government Group, Technical Computing Group, Supercomputer Architecture and Planning, and Systems Technology Research. Hazra was most recently senior vice president and general manager of the Compute and Networking Business Unit, and previously senior vice president of corporate strategy and communications, at Micron Technology.
“I believe quantum is the next frontier – and I believe it from the bottom of my heart, or I wouldn’t be here,” said Hazra. “I do believe, however, that it won’t be a binary replacement. If you just look at quantum algorithms today, you see certain portions of the workflow taking advantage of a quantum surface, while other parts are done quite well on a traditional computer.”