Inside Quantum Technology

Q-CTRL taps Twitter/Slack vet Shih to become Head of Product

As quantum evolves beyond the R&D-heavy focus of the last few years to become more of a productization game, firms in the space are going to have to woo some big names in technology product development to gain a competitive edge. Q-CTRL this week did just that, announcing the hiring of Alex Shih, formerly of Slack, Twitter, Google and other buzzworthy tech firms, as the new Head of Product at Q-CTRL.

Shih will lead the company’s product management teams to deliver the technology’s value and RoI to customers and end users in new, broader markets, Q-CTRL said. The news comes after Q-CTRL very recently launched a quantum sensing division, so the opportunities to create new products for new markets could be about to expand significantly.

The new Head of Product has a lot of household names on his resume. Shih most recently was a principal of technical products at Slack, and had been director of product & ecosystem at Planet Labs, led emerging market products and initiatives at Twitter, built developer products and integrations at Airbnb and Google, and co-founded a social enterprise called Global Cycle Solutions (later acquired by Sun King). 

The Q-CTRL announcement of Shih’s hiring indicated that he was instrumental in building products that helped Planet Labs reach more than $100 million in total contract value, and helped scale Twitter’s growth beyond Silicon Valley into Southeast Asia, India, Africa, and other emerging markets, which led to extensive adoption and new use cases from millions of new users.

“Moving from large, traditional Silicon Valley corporations to a fast scaling quantum software company brings new challenges and exciting opportunities that I look forward to embracing in this new role,” said Shih in a statement. “I am inspired by quantum technology’s potential to revolutionize computing and accelerate resource-intensive applications and use cases across industries. My aim is to leverage my experiences building and scaling products from various domains to deliver real value to our customers, from speed of delivery to performance gains to cost savings, which is simply infeasible with alternative technologies.”

Shih continued, “Productizing the user experience for Q-CTRL’s technology will unlock the potential for our customers to solve complex, meaningful challenges, from new drug discovery to logistics optimization to climate change mitigation, and I really hope to inspire others to join the field…”

Q-CTRL founder and CEO Professor Michael J. Biercuk added, “Alex’s consumer and enterprise expertise will help us deliver Q-CTRL’s powerful capabilities in quantum computing and quantum sensing to the broadest range of end users, regardless of their experience levels. His addition to the team highlights the true product focus we have at Q-CTRL, where we know that building technology is not enough – we have to truly delight our users as we help them achieve their ambitions.”

Dan O’Shea has covered telecommunications and related topics including semiconductors, sensors, retail systems, digital payments and quantum computing/technology for over 25 years.

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