David Williams, founder of Arqit - the quantum encryption company
Creating global scale, making a tonne of money and having a lot of fun doing it.
My biggest challenge? Hiring the very best and smartest people.
Building sovereign capabilities to solve strategic issues for the UK
This is the third in a series of 15 episodes in which we asked Notion team members and our portfolio founders to answer four questions in the context of this new decade, describing their challenge in terms of going to the moon
What is your ambition for the coming decade?
What do you consider your biggest challenges?
What is success?
What is your greatest wish for the European tech ecosystem?
Who are you?
I am a tech entrepreneur and have been so for more than 20 years. I am also the Founder of Arqit which is building a quantum encryption technology to make the world some safe from hacking.
What is your biggest ambition for this coming decade?
To grow a company of global scale and significance that makes a tonne of money and enables us all to have an enormous amount of fun while doing so.
What is the biggest challenge to achieving that vision?
Arqit is building a quantum encryption technology that we think could become a fundamental building block of the way web 3.0 works. That’s a Napoleonic vision and a lot of people will need to be persuaded that we are right, rational and that they need to change the way they work.
So we have a lot of advocacy and a lot of fundraising to do.
The thing that keeps me awake at night is not the product, because I know the product is great, and its not the money because that will flow, its actually hiring people smart enough to make sure we get the very best outcome from our product and money.
What is your definition of success?
My short term definition of success is Wales winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup and me getting tickets to the final. (Came up short on that one David!)
My definition of success is executing on the business plan I give to my investors and turning that plan into value that exceeds their expectations.
What is your biggest wish for the European tech ecosystem in the next decade?
I think as an Englishman, it would be arrogant of me to speak for Europe, but I’m happy to speak to my wishes for the UK.
The world has changed. The old allegiances we relied upon from post-war settlement can no longer be relied upon, and I don’t think any of us can rely on the allies we thought had been there for us for the last 70 years. Sovereign capability is going to become incredibly important. For technologies that have an impact on strategic national objectives and are fundamental building blocks to national prosperity, sovereign capability will become increasingly important.
So what I am hoping is that the UK can bridge the funding gap. There was some great analysis by the Financial Times that highlighted that the average deal size in the US is twice as large as those in Europe. Right there you have the beginning and the end of the answer to the question as to “why doesn’t the UK create global-scale companies?” In order for us to create sovereign global scale companies, I have recommended to our current and previous UK governments that they need to intervene in the venture capital markets to enable larger deal sizes to enable UK companies to raise larger rounds faster. If you can raise twice as much money then the chances of hitting a billion-dollar valuation will be commensurately larger.