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Cynthia Reeves | SBJ

A Conversation With ... Nathan Cole

Business Operations Manager, Salad Technologies

Posted online

How does the Salad technology work?
It’s like Airbnb for your computer. It’s a pretty new, radical value proposition. If I told you 15 years ago you’re going to let some stranger stay in your spare room and monetize this latent resource, you’d be like, no thanks. We feel like we’re on the front end of this revolution to do decentralized compute workloads. I have a 14-year-old and he has this powerful gaming PC. My wife and I let him play it two hours a day, but the other 22 hours a day, he has Salad app installed on his computer and it runs in the background. When he wakes up, he has $1.60 sitting there in his balance. By itself, his computer can do a little bit, but when it’s put with tens of thousands of others at the same time, we can run these workloads across that whole, huge network in 180 countries.

How does the technology use the computer?
Primarily right now we’re using the graphics processor because those are so powerful and that’s the biggest need in Web3 and blockchain. But in the future, we will have diversified workloads where you can share your internet connection, you can do CPU workloads, as well. That’s why we’re targeting gamers. They’ve got this hardware that’s really, really valuable and in high demand. That kind of graphics card can do not only blockchain securing, which we’re doing right now, but in the future, it will be able to run artificial intelligence, weather simulations, data synth projects. Everyone needs compute power and there’s not enough in the world. The big incumbents like Amazon and others have just this essential monopoly. It’s all in a huge data warehouse where they’re paying for power.

Is that the primary objective of decentralizing, to make it more accessible and more cost effective?
On the supply side, the masses that we would be appealing to are those gamers. There’s tens of millions of idle gaming computers. We’re at a very small fraction of a percent of the market supply with the far and away leadership in this category. That’s what we’ve been focused on for four years, building up the network. The demand side is actually going to be much more niche as we go after these businesses that have targeted workloads that are currently paying 10 times the amount that we can do it for.

Where are you in that process? Have you started selling to businesses?
We were just a seed company before March, and that was focused on building up the supply side primarily through YouTube influencers and marketing efforts. The reason we raised $17 million is so that we can go out and build all of the engineering requirements to sell to businesses. Right now, we’re just securing blockchain, doing Web3 and crypto. We have 20 employees today, and I have 55 openings now that we’ve raised this money.

What’s the timeline on that build-out?
We’re looking at about an 18-month runway. The markets have cooled off a lot, so it could be up to 24 months before Series B. I have a dozen openings I would hire today if I found the right person. Believe it or not, it’s hard to even find a recruiter in this environment.

Salad Technologies is based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and you live in Springfield. What’s the value of a remote workforce in this tight labor market?
After COVID, Salad pivoted to fully remote, which a lot of companies have done. It’s such a huge advantage. I will tell you my goal is to hire as many Missouri people as possible.

What are the barriers to getting people signed up?
One, they don’t know about it. This is not something you just put in a Google ad to explain. The other reason is it does take some electricity cost. It’s paid for significantly by what you’re doing, but some people have fears about that, environmental concerns. What’s securing the blockchain is far, far more green than the vast majority of the power that we’re using in America. I believe it’s going to be the future of money.

You mentioned YouTube influencers; is that how you’re advertising to other gamers?
Almost exclusively. If you have someone you’ve been following for a long time, you trust their voice. We had our best quarter yet with over 100,000 signups in the first quarter of this year, 100% through YouTube influencers.

How many users do you need to sustain the business?
That’s the question we’re asking right now. It varies based on the market. At 20,000 active users online at any given time, we’re fairly close to breaking even depending on where the market is at. To get 100,000 daily active users is going to be a huge breakthrough because then we’ll have the capacity to take on massive contracts.

Nathan Cole can be reached at nathan@salad.com.

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