The Superposition Guy: How Yuval Boger Got Into Quantum Computing and Podcasting
His LinkedIn says, “My other computer is quantum.” His primary computer he uses, among other things, to interview thought leaders in quantum computing for his podcast, The Superposition Guy.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Yuval Boger, Chief Marketing Officer at QuEra, a Boston-based company developing quantum computers based on neutral atoms. This is the first article on the Future of Computing blog that explores a new format: expert interviews, where we dive deeper into a particular technology or industry trend.
I talked to Yuval about recent developments in quantum hardware, how QuEra positions its 256-qubit quantum computer “Aquila,” and which physicist he’d love to meet for dinner.
Why Quantum Computing?
Having studied physics, I was always attracted to frontier technology, and quantum computing is certainly as frontier as it gets. After co-founding and serving as CEO or CMO at several deep-tech companies, from medical devices to wireless power to virtual reality (before the metaverse hype), I got into quantum computing—first at Classiq, a leader in quantum software, and now at QuEra, the leading neutral atom quantum computing company.
The more I looked into quantum, the more excited I got. It is still very early and a small community—everyone knows everyone—and thus a great time to make an impact.
Early in my career, I enjoyed working as a product leader, a key part of which is trying to understand where the market is heading and what customers want, even before they express it clearly. As hockey great Wayne Gretzky once said, “Skate to where the puck will be”—or in my case, focus on where the market will be in a couple of years.
Then while obtaining my MBA at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, I fell in love with marketing. At Kellogg they say that “everything is marketing, and marketing is everything”, so looking for opportunities that combined my love of physics and passion for marketing was a natural next step.
Quantum startups typically have lots of physics PhDs, but they also need people on the business and marketing side. In quantum especially, it’s important to have some technical knowledge, so I enjoy working at the intersection of physics and marketing.
How Mature is Quantum Computing?
At QuEra, we recently surveyed quantum experts about how confident they are in what the winning quantum hardware modality will be. Will it be superconduction qubits, neutral atoms, trapped ions, or photonics?
On a scale from 1 (“no idea”) to 6 (“I’m sure I know”), the average landed at 2, demonstrating that everyone is still pretty much in the dark about which hardware approach might win.
Of course, every CEO is bullish on their respective technology, but it’s their job to believe in it. Many enterprises do pilot projects in quantum to evaluate the potential, but at the end of the day, it’s still more of a box-checking exercise, and more serious adoption will follow once quantum computers get better.
It is still mostly about getting the hardware right. Quantum hardware is the key enabler for quantum software and higher layers. It is not until quantum hardware is available and powerful enough to deliver an actual advantage and commercial benefit that the focus will shift to the software and application layers.
That’s why at QuEra, we focus on building the best qubits from neutral atoms and combining them to create large and powerful quantum computers. Many quantum hardware platforms face challenges when scaling beyond 100 qubits. We have already demonstrated a 256-qubit quantum computer called “Aquila,” and we think we can reach 10,000 qubits realistically in the next few years, without requiring interconnects. In November, QuEra became available as part of Amazon Braket—Amazon’s cloud quantum computing platform— which is a huge win for us.
It’s not just scaling the number of qubits but also connecting them and shuttling them around. We can move our qubits around while maintaining coherence, that is, adapting the architecture of our quantum computers for solving different computational problems or segmenting functionalities into different zones, for example, a memory zone, a compute zone, and a measurement zone.
Quantum computing has come a long way. First, the question was whether you could build even a single qubit. Then the challenge became to implement a two-qubit gate and eventually increase the number of qubits from four to ten to 50 qubits and beyond. Quantum computers now have several dozens of qubits, and every step along the way helped to de-risk quantum computing and brought us closer to our goal of building large-scale, fault-tolerant quantum computers.
At QuEra, we had two choices: go into stealth mode and develop large-scale, fault-tolerant quantum computers (FTQC) over the next five years or take incremental steps, make early machines available to customers and learn from their feedback. We chose the latter route since we always need to learn what the market wants and establish customer relationships early on.
How Did You Get into Podcasting?
Podcasting is a great way to learn about the market. I can reach out to almost everyone, interview them as a guest, and at the same time learn things that interest me and hopefully my audience as well.
I’ve been into podcasting for a while. Whenever I entered a new industry, I rebranded accordingly from “The VR Guy” to “The Charge Guy” to “The Qubit Guy” while at Classiq, and now to “The Superposition Guy.”
I started The Superposition Guy before joining QuEra. But it’s also a tool for business development for QuEra, as it is a way to establish a relationship with the guests, and once the mic is off, we can talk about other topics outside the podcast.
As for the format, I wanted to make an interesting and engaging podcast with weekly episodes so subscribers know it’s regular while also capturing the pulse of the industry. People listen to it on their way to work, for example, or even read the transcripts, so for me, the short audio form works very well.
When I started, one of my board members didn’t think I would last more than two episodes: I recently produced my 50th episode for The Superposition Guy, on top of over 50 previous episodes of The Qubit Guy, and I’m still going strong. It’s really about understanding the mechanics of how you go from an idea to producing an episode and developing a process for that. Now it’s part of my weekly routine.
What Advice Would You Give Deep Tech Founders?
Recently, Barack Obama shared his number one career advice on LinkedIn News’ “This Is Working” podcast, and I really liked his answer: “Just learn to get stuff done!”
Young founders tend to procrastinate, delaying the release of their product and trying to get it perfect. That’s paralysis by analysis! Get yourself into a rhythm of creating, shipping, and moving on to the next challenge. Learn how to get stuff done.
Which Physicist Would You Like to Have Dinner With?
(Yuval typically asks his guest this question on The Superposition Guys podcast. You can read what his guests typically answer in his Medium article.)
I would love to have dinner with Albert Einstein. On the one hand, he had doubts about quantum mechanics and its “spooky action at a distance.” I’d be very interested to hear if he’d be convinced now, given there has been so much research that has confirmed the quirks of quantum mechanics and that it’s now finding its way into the first applications in computing or sensing. On the other hand, not only was he the greatest mind in physics, but he was also accomplished in playing the violin—and since I also play the violin (not nearly as well as he did), I’d love to chat about that with him.