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Gal Hochberg of Clear: “Take care of yourself along the way”

At Clear, we are building a truly decentralized business network between enterprises. We are able to use cryptography, networking protocols, orchestration, and blockchain to connect companies from around the globe into one safe environment where they can directly interact in a trusted way involving billions of dollars. A key element of this, is that unlike […]

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At Clear, we are building a truly decentralized business network between enterprises. We are able to use cryptography, networking protocols, orchestration, and blockchain to connect companies from around the globe into one safe environment where they can directly interact in a trusted way involving billions of dollars. A key element of this, is that unlike many existing networks, the companies don’t have to use middlemen to connect — it is software talking directly to software, but we are still retaining the assurance and trust that were usually only available in centralized networks. This also lets them build new and complex products in cooperation, which is key for their success.


As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gal Hochberg, CEO and Co-founder of Clear, the developer of blockchain-based settlement and clearing networks to remove friction in complex B2B trade. With more than 15 years’ experience as an accomplished engineer and researcher, Gal has a wealth of knowledge on topics ranging from cybersecurity, computer graphics, and machine learning, to big data and web-applications. In addition to establishing Clear, Gal is also co-founder of HiredScore, an AI HR company used by Fortune 500 companies to identify the best candidates in their funnel.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was always fascinated by complex machines and computers, and since I was in school I’ve been building programs and software. Then, combined with the growth of the internet, I began to learn about networks, orchestration, and the power of automation — especially as my own life grew more connected and many opportunities were created for me through the internet. As I grew older I wanted to not just build the software itself, but build organizations and companies who would create amazing connected tools for people to make their lives better and more enjoyable. That made me decide to move from technical roles, to leadership roles.

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

I don’t know if this is the most interesting story of my career, but it is one that has inspired me many times. At one time during my career I was doing incident response for a large corporation, helping them to understand the ramifications of a recent cyber attack. I joined the project while it was already in progress and led an avenue of investigation. Six months in, while we had found some interesting leads, the trail had pretty much gone cold as the attack happened a few years prior. The customer was getting tired of the expensive consulting work we were doing and the team was starting to feel like it would be an unsolvable case. The project lead disagreed, and kept pushing everyone to chase every single lead and clean up every angle before we declared defeat. He believed we could win. This was not very popular with the customer or the team, but the project lead’s enthusiasm and drive inspired us to at least complete the planned tasks. As we were nearing the end of the investigation, on the final check on the final lead, we found an archived file kept in a hard drive which had hard evidence of the attack itself. This was the golden key which allowed us to follow the attackers tracks in all they did in the network, bring all other pieces into focus, and understand how the customer was compromised. The customer could then intelligently work to contain the breach and save millions of dollars. This led to the customer becoming a great partner of the firm I worked at and it was an overwhelming success. I always remember the project lead’s incredible (at the time) insistence that we would find a lead if we kept at it — and how he ended up being right. It gives me strength to both believe in myself and my view of the world, to listen to other’s knowledge and intuition, and to stay optimistic — especially when things look bleak.

Can you tell us about the “Bleeding edge” technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

At Clear, we are building a truly decentralized business network between enterprises. We are able to use cryptography, networking protocols, orchestration, and blockchain to connect companies from around the globe into one safe environment where they can directly interact in a trusted way involving billions of dollars. A key element of this, is that unlike many existing networks, the companies don’t have to use middlemen to connect — it is software talking directly to software, but we are still retaining the assurance and trust that were usually only available in centralized networks. This also lets them build new and complex products in cooperation, which is key for their success.

How do you think this might change the world?

I personally believe that the world is going through a big democratization process. As both the number of people and the scale of economic activity has grown, our traditional institutions and processes have had a hard time scaling with them. This has led to many problems such as the inequality of opportunities the less connected to these institutions you are, dampers on growth and innovation, and sometimes cronyism and brittleness. What we’re seeing now, and the work at Clear is part of that, is a democratization of infrastructure and opportunity, combined with a deepening of complexity. If all you need to innovate is a computer and some software, we will see a great explosion of ideas and wealth. Companies will now be able to invent and implement new products very rapidly which is something that is required to thrive in today’s environment.

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

Eran Haggiag (Clear’s Executive Chairman and Co-founder) and I were sitting on a bench in mid 2017 and discussing the recent trend of cryptocurrencies gaining traction. He shared his experiences in building successful advertising technology companies prior and how almost all of his business was digital, except the commercial interaction with partners. We then realized that blockchain technologies and cryptography could be a building block to take those business relationships and digitize them as well, without giving up the privacy they require or the trust that must exist for them to function. At the same time we happened to connect with some business leaders who we shared this insight with and quickly realized that this connects to a very real problem large businesses have today for legacy services and will continue to have even more for upcoming services.

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

Creating transformation in large enterprises is a long process. The drivers for the adoption of the technology are very strong, with the demand for services growing. To change enterprises today, we need strong open-minded partners within enterprises who understand the evolution of technology. Shifting to a new paradigm isn’t easy, and is very different to the short-term bottom-line approach most departments need to be in. We like to partner with the visionaries, who can think 3, 5, 10 years down the road and work with us to create that future.

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

One of the things our amazing team, led by Eran and the imitable Ruth Lotan who is VP Business Development and our Marketing Lead at Clear, has been to take the values we want to embody in our products and turn them into personal experiences for our customers. At Clear, we want to make business frictionless, enjoyable, and clear — which the team has done an amazing job of turning into a physical reality for people who interact with us. This is done by focusing on personal interaction through connections and not mass-emailing campaigns. Through creating unique lounges and physical spaces in events and not the standard hard-sell booths with brochures. Using understandable and clear language and visuals to explain even the most complex topics (and in blockchain they can get pretty complex!). In general, trying to give companies interacting with us the same experience as we think they should have when using our products. This has worked well, in a field with many large companies, our brand is well known and respected. Customers understand not just the product features but the vision of the world we want to help bring to reality.

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?

We could not have achieved our success without our amazing Clear team including Eran, our strong executive team members, and advisors. For me, the focus on supporting each other and interacting positively has been crucial in achieving success. In startups (and right now, in the wider world in general), there are many ups and downs. New challenges come up every day, and many of them may feel unsurmountable. At the same time, you need to be excited and come with fresh eyes and a fresh mind to be able to innovate, succeed, and lift the rest of the team. Personally, Eran, the team, and our advisors play a crucial part in encompassing that everyday — even when times get tough.

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

We are in the beginning of that journey, and it is very important to us. Clear’s product aims to create a more enjoyable, more connected, and a more frictionless world by empowering people and companies to focus on new and exciting things and stop focusing on repetitive manual tasks. We are also exploring ways to directly give back to global causes.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

It’s going to work — Building a global trade network is a big goal, and in the beginning we were not sure it would work. Looking back now, I have confidence about the future of the network and it would have been great to get a message sent from the future letting me know that if we execute and take care of what’s under our control, we’re on the right path.

Focus on good partners — One thing which has been pivotal for us has been partnering and working with the right people and companies. When you work with such large customers as a small company you need the right advice, connections, and insight to be able to create a big impact with limited resources. We have been able to find great partners and I think that using that mindset from the beginning — focusing on good, effective partnerships could have led to even more success.

Take care of yourself along the way — In the beginning of Clear, I didn’t take care of myself from a diet and exercise perspective. I have recently changed that and I have noticed that my ability to perform and enjoy myself at work has increased dramatically. While this isn’t exactly esoteric advice, I wish someone explained to me how powerful the shift is once you do it right, and how much you miss out from not doing it.

Find places looking towards the future — At Clear, we focused on modernizing different kinds of services — but the kind that tended to work best are those who want to become more efficient today so they can do something new tomorrow. Efficiency is important, but companies are much more driven by creating the future then optimizing the past. We did spend some time in areas that are big today which may not evolve into the future, and it would have been good to understand how that negatively affects adoption and speed, versus those places that can understand how they will use digitization and modernization to grow.

There will be a global pandemic starting in February 2020 which will greatly affect life and business in every country — I think it’s pretty obvious why that would have been convenient to know before we started :) — We’ve been able to react pretty well to COVID, shifting many of our efforts to remote and online.

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. 🙂

I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned in this journey, which I would be very excited to see turn into a movement, is the power of interacting positively with others, no matter what happens and at all times. Many times we react in anger, disgust, disrespect, or aggression to the people around us, not because that is the effective response for them or us, but because it is our knee-jerk reaction when we are stressed, afraid, or feel cornered. This has a high cost to those around us who are exposed to our reactions. They may feel attacked and become less open and productive. If each of us could aim to use our internal abilities to take ownership of our reactions, and believe that we are each capable of handling ourselves to interact positively with those around us, the result would be incredibly productive and enjoyable. This doesn’t mean ignoring our challenges, or giving up on our boundaries or objectives, but learning to communicate them authentically, positively, and with respect. I’ve had luck while working at Clear to meet people such as Eran and others which have taught me that it is within my personal power to do so — and it would be great if other people could realize this as well and apply it within their lives.

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

Bill Gates has a quote, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years.” I believe it’s a quote that’s relevant in both a business and personal capacity. In business, many times we feel like things are “taking too long” — milestones are hard to hit, and it takes a while for things to achieve fruition. Similarly, in the personal realm we need to use a lot of effort to grow and improve ourselves, and over scales of weeks or months the results can sometimes be underwhelming. However, if you zoom out to a scale outside of the tactical one you live in you can see how these efforts build on one another and become truly transformative. You should not take the fact that things are harder than you thought as evidence that the big audacious goal is beyond reach. If you persist, you will achieve in time things you could not have imagined possible when you started.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

The world is evolving and becoming digital and many enterprises are still stuck partnering with paper and manual processes. They’re going to need to reinvent themselves to provide the types of services people want today, instead of the services people wanted 20 years ago. They’re not going to want to give up control when they do this. At Clear, we’re building the infrastructure for the next generation of complex business to business trade, which honestly they already need right now. We are already working with the largest telecommunications providers and are expanding to other markets as well. If you are a long-term thinker who understands this shift, you might find what we’re doing interesting.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Follow “Clear Blockchain Technologies” on LinkedIn or Facebook or @ClearBlockchain on Twitter for news about the company.

My personal account is Gal Hochberg on LinkedIn or @Gal_Hochberg on Twitter.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

Thank you, it was a pleasure.

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