The Future of Communication Technology: Alex Clark of ‘Quantum Pigeon’ On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up How We Connect and Communicate With Each Other

Quantum Pigeon (QP) is the first premium messaging app designed to help content creators authentically engage with audiences to monetize their brands.

QP lets you control your information and how you want to share it. For instance, you can control who sees personally identifying information like your phone number, email or profile. You can decide not to share that at all. Boosting privacy is critical. But then, there’s another big way we can help people.


The telephone totally revolutionized the way we could communicate with people all over the world. But then came email and took it to the next level. And then came text messaging. And then came video calls. And so on…What’s next? What’s just around the corner?

In this interview series, called ‘The Future Of Communication Technology’ we are interviewing leaders of tech or telecom companies who are helping to develop emerging communication technologies and the next generation of how we communicate and connect with each other.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alex Clark, CEO & Founder at Quantum Pigeon.

Alex is a seasoned technology innovator and a leading expert in embedded software, massively parallel compute-architectures, service-oriented technologies, enterprise class computing, and building high-performance, secure, scalable and distributed solutions.

Alex studied aerospace engineering at San Jose State University and has authored numerous publications and patents. Alex co-founded Bit Stew Systems and was responsible for developing the game changing data integration and artificial intelligence platform. Bit Stew was ranked in the Top 100 Startups by Forbes Magazine and was later acquired by GE Digital. Alex was named to the Top 40 under 40 list for leadership and technology innovation by Business in Vancouver.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Ididn’t start off knowing that I wanted to be a tech entrepreneur. When I was young, I wanted to be a cartoon animator. Then it dawned on me: I’m in Silicon Valley, during one of the biggest tech booms ever and maybe I should consider another career choice.

My tech journey started with me crawling through the ranks with a company on their QA team. I was doing things like bug fixes and quality testing. I realized I had a knack for it and could work quickly. A typical bug basher would find about 20 by the end of the cycle. I found over 130. Fast forward a little while and when the dotcom boom really took off, I was in a good position for opportunities.

There were ups and downs after the dotcom bust happened. Then there was the day I was supposed to be installing software in the World Trade Centre on 9/11 and luckily I missed my flight. Soon after that another economic collapse ensued resulting in more ups and downs on the career path. For a while, I was serving coffee at Starbucks and barely making a living before I landed another job developing software.

Finally, I started working on an idea that became a company called Bit Stew Systems. Since I was working on developing the technology on nights and weekends while I was employed by day, I tried to sell them a license for free. Instead, my boss paid me for the license and became our first customer!

Since then, I’ve become a tech founder for several companies, including Quantum Pigeon, a premium messaging & monetization app designed specifically for content creators.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The thing I’m probably most known for is my successful exit from Bit Stew. We sold the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) company to General Electric for $153 million (USD). It took an unbelievable amount of work and a lot of stressful days, and sleepless nights….but we did it.

It was an incredible moment and I think for a lot of people, that would be nothing but a positive experience. Certainly, the money was a good thing. But for me, there was anxiety in stepping away from something you worked so hard to create.

“What was I going to do with the rest of my life?” That was the question. I’ve still got a lot of years ahead of me. So I started thinking about ideas for my next startup. Where could I make a difference in the world? What was the space for me to be truly disruptive?

So, the exit from my first startup wasn’t the end. It was just the beginning.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Hire great people. Trust them to do great work.” In the early days at my first startup, I was very much involved in actually working on the technology. It was complex, so I felt like I needed to be right in there with my sleeves rolled up. But my being so involved was actually bogging the company down and limiting the talents of my team.

These days, I know to just hire a great team and let them do what they do best. But I understand that startup leaders often struggle with letting go. That’s particularly true as we’re in a distributed workforce, where you’re not seeing each other every day and building that trust factor. Today with Quantum Pigeon, I’ve brought on board many exceptional people. With that sense of trust and familiarity built in, we’re not just part of a company. We’re part of a family and that isn’t very common in today’s work world. I consciously try to encourage that sense of camaraderie and fun which is a big part of the Quantum Pigeon team culture we’re building together.

It’s definitely different when you’re building off previous successes and you can use the connections you’ve built to generate funding, build a team and take a big swing.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My manager at one of my first jobs which was Starbucks had a tremendous impact on me. I know you’re probably looking for an example from my tech career days, but he taught me that great leaders are personable and work hard to create a great environment for their employees. That’s really stuck with me.

When people trust you and like you, they’ll work hard for you and for the greater good of the company. Later on in my career, I had jobs with really harsh managers that would say “I’m gonna fire the lowest performer this week!” That did not necessarily get anyone to work harder.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Just look at the damage that certain social media platforms have done. You can see that the industry is ripe for an overhaul and primed for disruption. We have the vision to do big things in a space that’s absolutely ready for change.

We all know that COVID-19 has impacted people’s ability to make a living. We’re giving content creators, and really everyone, a way to adapt to our new normal and look for brave, new ways to earn a living by monetizing their content. QP is helping bridge that gap for today’s creators.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about the cutting edge communication tech that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

Quantum Pigeon (QP) is the first premium messaging app designed to help content creators authentically engage with audiences to monetize their brands.

QP lets you control your information and how you want to share it. For instance, you can control who sees personally identifying information like your phone number, email or profile. You can decide not to share that at all. Boosting privacy is critical. But then, there’s another big way we can help people.

How do you think this might change the world?

We’re offering an alternative way to control your privacy online — and it’s possible that other messaging and social media apps can emulate.

Right now, with WhatsApp, we are being forced to disclose our phone numbers, peronal data, and content to Facebook. This has caused great concern for its users. It doesn’t have to be this way.

With so much in flux, trust, privacy and audience control are simply non-negotiable and users are looking for alternative messaging and social media solutions. That’s exactly where QP comes in.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

This isn’t so much about QP specifically, but a drawback of any online messaging platform or app is around how the technology is actually used.

Let me give you an example. Because one of our key tenets is privacy, we made QP so that you can edit your content at any time. What if you wanted to prove that you received an abusive message, but the person who sent it changed it after?

That’s why safety controls are built into the platforms — where chat backups would exist no matter what. Tied to this, we’re exploring the concept of a “Vault” that would help provide additional and unprecedented layers of privacy, without enabling bad actors.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

After my exit, I got a bit of press and media attention. You get lots of people hitting you up with the next big idea. But I didn’t want to start a company for the sake of it. I wanted to wholeheartedly believe in the idea. I also wouldn’t start a company if it wasn’t something that I would personally use. So I said ‘no’ a lot.

I was in many WhatsApp group chats (that weren’t private) and people managed to grab my phone number and reached out to me directly to pitch ideas. Which I don’t mind but in many ways I lost a sense of my privacy and that became a problem I wanted to solve for others. That’s what led me to QP.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

We’re building QP with what we believe is the right model: scaling up by getting user feedback early. You can’t just set out with a big vision — you also have to test where the rubber meets the road. What do users actually want? And how do they actually use the platform? We’re building out, in a data-driven way, what our content creators are showing us that they need. We’re also committed to a strong foundation of privacy. It’s not just one thing — you really need all of these ingredients to work together for us to break through.

The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how we work and how we communicate in our work. How do you think your innovation might be able to address the new needs that have arisen as a result of the pandemic?

We all know that with the pandemic, many people have become unemployed. And since there are no real-live events anymore like conferences or fashion shows, that revenue stream for influencers has simply dried up.

QP offers an innovative way for people to communicate, share their knowledge and reach fans with premium content. For people who are unemployed or looking to monetize their hobby or talents, this type of innovation can have a real impact.

You see people create content online with other platforms and then Facebook profits off of it. But why aren’t the people who created the content really benefiting?

We take a very different approach. We enable our content publishers to monetize and control their own creativity. One of our key principles is value — as in, letting you get the full value of your content.

With QP, you utilize AI-powered and data-driven technologies to deliver exclusive, subscription-based content to your contacts. We have a flexible pricing model, where we pay 90% of our revenue directly to content creators. The best part is, there are no ads ever.

So, you’re not just building a presence and then getting revenue from ad clicks, like on some other platforms.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. It’s gonna be harder than you think and take longer than you think, but that’s okay.

With my first startup, Bit Stew, everything took so much effort. Just the process of actually selling the company to GE was a long haul. I think about all of the meetings with lawyers and the back and forth negotiations and the stressful days when there was so much uncertainty. It dragged out. But eventually, both sides came to a realization that we both wanted a deal. Getting a moderator into the discussion helped move the last few yards to the goal line. And in the end, both sides won.

2. Change is inevitable. Don’t expect something to be perfect out the gate. With our first client, we had built something that worked for them. But as we took on more customers, we also took on more challenges and the needs were ever changing. Change was the only constant.

3. Don’t be afraid to fail. There were times when we’d scaled up too much and were running out of runway. And in those hard moments, there’s a crunch where you can see that you have to make cuts or else you won’t be able to make payroll. To be honest, there were times when me and my Co-Founder didn’t pay ourselves a salary, but squeaked by to make sure everyone else got paid. Those were hard times. But you learn. You get better.

4. Listen and support the talent of others. You don’t have to do everything yourself.

You really can’t do it all alone. That was a hard lesson for me to learn, personally. I have a bit of a take-control kind of personality. When I see a problem in the technology, my first instinct is to get right in there with the team and start solving coding problems. But everyone has their specific role in the company. Instead of trying to take it all on, you really do have to get better at finding, hiring and cultivating the best and brightest talent to pull you through.

5. Build a business next to a bakery because it will be delicious.

This may not sound like serious advice, but I’m trying to make a bigger point here. Companies thrive when there is good morale. Paying attention to amenities or work style choices that help everyone stay positive, even in hard times? That’s really priceless.

6. Remember to have fun. I believe that there’s room for fun and light-heartedness, even within a business environment. Now, I know that some people will find this advice strange. They may think of business as something very serious. And it is that. But companies are also people, striving towards a common goal. If people are not having fun, it’s not sustainable. Work is where we spend so much of our time. We need to include time for joy and celebrating the milestones whether it’s launching your latest release or company anniversaries.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The most amount of good is something that affects the most amount of people. This is something I gave a lot of thought after I sold Bit Stew and before I started Quantum Pigeon. I had freedom to choose where I wanted to spend my time.

I decided one of the most urgent and important things I could do was to help people take control of their privacy. We see the state of technology today, but we’re not locked into this mode. By being disruptors at QP, we can give people an alternative: stop selling yourself and your privacy. Instead, engage your audience and earn a living by exploring your own authenticity and truth.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

The Quantum Pigeon blog is where we share a lot of our updates about our work and how it’s evolving. You can check it out at blog.quantumpigeon.com

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.


About The Interviewer: David Liu is the founder and CEO of Deltapath, an award-winning unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication. Liu is known for his visionary leadership, organic growth strategies, and future-forward technology. Liu is highly committed to achieving a greater purpose with technology. Liu’s business insights are regularly featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Tech Crunch, and more.

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