Matt Hawkins says the lightbulb moment for his company’s unique selling point came almost six years ago when at a presentation for the bank HSBC about trying to use technology to distribute computer use.
His company, Cudo Ventures, turns unused or wasted computer power into cryptocurrency without impacting on the machine, generating income for the owner and charities by using the surplus in cryptocurrency mining.
Previously, Hawkins was the founder of C4L, a UK data centre network business, which he sold in 2016. Before the sale, he had become aware of the huge capacity of waste on computers, servers and cloud platforms.
At the time, the machines to allow his idea to be developed “didn’t really exist to make it a reality,” he says.
And he didn’t have too much time to expend on the fledgling idea, as he was too running his own business to do much about it, while running a professional network data centre he noticed “the amount of waste in the IT infrastructure”
Once he sold the company, he had the time to look at it again as he decide what to do next and returned to the idea.
Ton of ideas
In a promotional video for his company, his colleagues pay tribute to his vision. “He has got a ton of ideas and many of which are quite good,” one colleague says. Another says he’s “always original” and has a “deep level of understanding” of technology and a strong work ethic.
So, how much can you make from your idling computer, then?
“It depends on the machine,” he says. “If it is a laptop you can get about £1 a month and if you have a high-powered games machine it can be up to £50 a month. The type of machine depends on how much you can earn.”
Some of the funds earned can go to charity as well as earning money for individuals and companies. The percentage of money going to charity depends on how much you want to give.
The focus on charities is because a lot of charities “find it difficult” to get people to sign up to direct debit agreements and their marketing costs can be expensive. “With something as straightforward as this they are earning money instead of in traditional and very inefficient ways of fundraising.”
There are currently two versions of the software – Cudo Donate and Cudo Miner.
The Cudo Donate software sits quietly in the background while you are working and comes to life when you stop.
“It’s a good feeling,” he says of the company. “I love technology and I am trying to use technology to do good things.”
The technology is something that anyone can download onto their computer, to start earning money.
The recent fall in the price of cryptocurrencies across the board has only had a limited impact on “how much people can earn off their machines,” he says. “It has not decreased quite as much as how the value of the coin has decreased. How much they earn has gone down slower.
“I take the long view and I think the price of cryptocurrencies is going to go down to quarter two next year before we start the recovery. It is following exactly the same paths as in 2009 and 2013. We are mapping it quite closely.
“There will be another year of low revenues before it starts to improve.”
He says the distributed computer price is “completely irrelevant” as professional miners are contracted to pay, even if they are making a loss on electricity costs. If they sign up to Cudo, at least they will be subsidised a little by offsetting any losses.
Adoption of cryptocurrencies is relatively low, at about 7% of the world, who either have cryptocurrency or a wallet. “It is very small, but I see the potential as we are about where the internet was in about the late 1990s,” he says.
“There are a lot of people building stuff and clever technology on blockchain but its in test or on beta. Over the next year or two, it will not just be about cryptocurrency.”
In the next two to three years, people will be creating “useable services that start to scale up. Purely cryptocurrency will definitely decline,” he adds.
He says the lack of women in the industry is akin to the lack of women developers where the ratio is also “really low.” He urges schools and educators to get involved in the technology and to get behind it. With universities, he says, they are often lagging behind the technology.
He’s very interested in making technology greener and exploring ways of doing this.
After selling his last company, he was looking at how to make it more environmentally-friendly, which is how he came up with Cudo. He’d looked at solar energy and wind technology previously.
It’s been important gaining the confidence of the charities who they’ve spoken to about their work “because there are a lot of scammers and there is concern about cryptocurrency and any new technology that people get taken advantage of, and they are also scared.”
The company’s based in Bournemouth, which is known as Silicon Beach, due to the concentration of technology businesses, like Silicon Valley but on a smaller scale.
They are also exploring creating environmentally friendly heaters using computers attached to heating systems that could be not just carbon neutral but carbon negative.