Spread joy, not fear. Respect pales in comparison to Love. Love makes people run into burning buildings to save you. Respect makes people write really nice eulogies about you.
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 interviewingHugh Carspecken, co-founder and chief strategy officer of DartPoints.
Hugh Carspecken brings over 23 years of cross-industry technology experience, from data networking to fiber optics to wireless/cellular infrastructure, foundational experience, aiding to establish the vision and mission of DartPoints. Hugh’s early career in engineering and network deployments span metro fiber, access, and cellular networks, with later experience starting and growing successful start-ups in Silicon Valley, such as ONI Systems (NASDAQ: ONIS before NYSE: CIEN), FiberTower (NASDAQ: FTWR before NYSE: T) , and Wave2Wave.
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? Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Exposed to a variety of opportunities during the early 1990’s working in Silicon Valley, technology was my true curiosity. Having the opportunity to develop technology fulfilled my passion and offered me a unique chance for both professional and personal wealth early on. However, in the early 2000’s the dot-com bubble burst, exposing the need to develop technology not just on speculation or value, but on the ‘why’. Technology development is great and it’s very important to me, however, it also poses some concerns when you don’t consider the impact of its capabilities. Today we’re realizing why the ‘why’ is so important. As we consider key concerns such as lack of privacy, clickbait, the ‘Social Dilemma,’ are more highlighting the many issues and concerns I faced earlier in my career, and are now part of our current digital reality. From this lesson, I learned to focus my attention on why things are happening or why they need to happen versus the need to drive current or future value.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Hugh, what do you think we produce?” my first Silicon Valley company CEO asked me. A young and naïve Hugh responded, “We produce optical transmission equipment.” He responded, “Wrong. We produce stock.” Stock as in return on shareholder investments. This was an eye-opening exchange for me, and obviously has stayed with me my entire career. From that day forward I chose to start/build companies that produced something of value that creates a platform for future growth, not something that just focuses on the “right now.” Stock is important but growing the value that supports the stock allows for much greater growth and allows more people to share in the benefits.
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?
In my late-twenties, I was smart and young though not as developed emotionally, much like many other young professionals of that age. I was fortunate to receive an investment from a firm, and the very influential owner sat on the board of my company. After one board meeting, I was feeling good about how it went and very self-important, and he approached me and said, “Hugh, there is no doubt you are smart. Maybe the smartest in the room. But, you cannot lead.” My ego was deflated in an instant. He recommended I read a book by Daniel Goleman on how to manage emotional intelligence. It was at that point that I learned that communication is not about what is factual (though that is very important), it is how you deliver your facts and how others perceive you, ultimately getting their buy in. After this, I went on a personal and professional quest to improve my emotional intelligence and to self-transform into the leader I imagined I could be. The five year process took into account my personal appearance, transforming from a long-haired, shaggy looking athlete to a manicured, well-dressed executive; shifts to management style to focus on leading from individual’s strengths, rather than implied needs; identified goals and positioning them for collective alignment rather than forced adoption; and more. Today, I often share the anecdote that volunteer teams, who are self motivated, interested to accomplish great things with the limited time they have are able to move mountains much more effectively than tightly and overly managed teams ever could. I’ve never forgotten this lesson and have passed it along to others.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I found success rooted in my failures which encouraged me to embrace humility. Finding humility redirected me towards supporting those around me, which built stronger, tighter teams. Teams that could jointly define positive missions with goals that could be achieved through patience and perseverance. By achieving goals from this perspective, the teams around me developed self-confidence converting into future success. While not world changing, this approach has changed a few people’s worlds.
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?
DartPoints is a company focused on enabling and enhancing network interconnection in markets that need it most. Simply put, we are bridging the digital divide in underserved areas throughout the US by aggregating networks, content and cloud providers, applications and more in specific locations. This enables the local digital ecosystem to connect, improve performance, and create more competitive markets. These facilities transform local markets and position them for future growth and participation in the exploding digital economy. DartPoints is opening up local and regional markets by building enhanced and reliable localized facilities that provide an environment where other providers can enter and offer their service, building national value on a local level. Providers in these localities can now transform previously underserved markets into primary locations that drive revenue growth. This model drives more applications tailored to the specific needs of the local population, and even more so, may be of interest to the greater whole of the nation.
How do you think this might change the world?
As the pandemic highlighted, digital infrastructure has changed the world for nearly everyone. We are more dependent on technology than ever before, firmly positioning technology for insatiable growth in all directions. At DartPoints, we’ve analyzed the digital landscape for the past eight years, anticipating challenges and identifying opportunities required to expand into in order to create equal access not just for people and businesses but for technology and applications to prosper. As a result, DartPoints’ strategic vision is to enable the ubiquitous access to applications, those available today and those that are merely twinkles in their developers’ eyes. As a result, we envision our network-neutral interconnection and aggregation points as bridges that allow applications to deliver and empower information no matter where they are or what purpose they’re for, while improving performance and ROI for developers and users alike.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
Let’s consider this: algorithms that make data processing more efficient are simply a digital construct of stereotyping. The construct of stereotypes or labelling allows humans to align complex thoughts and ideas with others to create a collective agreement about the world we live in. Algorithms coalesce the collective data points to categorize and simulate this process, aligning ideals, thoughts, and behavior in a digital world to anticipate outcomes and reactions. As a result, the uniqueness of man gives way to the generalization of man. Consider this, further stereotyping and more stereotypical buckets to consider will dilute and generalize the process — particularly for political and mass-marketing purposes. As a result, the more localized the digital algorithms extract, the more generalized and fragmented we become as a whole. Consider the energy required to ‘unmelt’ the US, and how that process may impact or have adverse effects on building community and solidarity in humankind.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?
Since the advent of digital communications, there has always been a need for it to be distributed and accessible by most people, if not all people. Innovation of our digital world typically shapes and reshapes our relationship with data-driven applications every five to seven years. Here’s an example. Until now, the idea of the digital divide has strictly been about access. Wha has broadband, who does not, and how do we get it to more people? Advances in big data, AI, HPC and Iot have opened our eyes in a sense to a new view of the digital divide. That new view is access plus performance. Some of the most amazing things enabled by digital solutions, like smart agriculture for instance, really don’t work in the centralized-hub model we’ve built because of performance issues. So, what happens in this cycle is that within this time frame, technology and the applications it enables starts centralized and then becomes more distributed, reaching more and more people en masse. Recognizing this performance gap for the use and access to data and the applications they deliver led to the creation of DartPoints. DartPoints’ vision is to enable the hyper-distribution of data, especially as the development of data and applications expand from centralized cities and hubs to adjacent and hard to reach markets. Selective distribution of data is no longer an option, widely-distributed and equal access to data is the problem we are solving.
What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?
There’s a famous quote from Game of Thrones where Daenerys says, “I’m not going to stop the wheel, I’m going to break the wheel.” In a nutshell, the current way networks, content and application providers are expanding their reach are based on available locations in proximity to the most users in a cost effective way. This approach follows the same expansion model that many of their businesses began from. They’re down a path that may not be the most efficient to improve access to digital infrastructure that today’s and tomorrow’s applications require. As a result, we need to break the rules on how infrastructure expands and reimagine how to better construct our digital infrastructure through understanding why.
The team and I at DartPoints are challenging companies married to traditional infrastructure and business models to evolve. Re-imaging today’s digital infrastructure deployments will upend old models while making way for new ones that will vastly improve performance, resiliency and reliability beyond core markets to create opportunity for additional growth in adjacent and underserved markets. We expect this will equalize access, enhancing the ability to adopt technology solutions, and provide normalized access to even more people from nearly any device or location. I welcome the opportunity to speak with content, application, cloud and network providers to share a different perspective on how to reimagine and re-approach network design to enable digital communications more seamlessly and effectively for the most amount of people.
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?
The pandemic made painfully clear that all of our network resources were attached to commercial real estate (i.e. office buildings, etc.) locations and that a more competitive and distributed digital infrastructure is required. Residential networks were not prepared for the literal switch from commercial to residential data use. At DartPoints, our vision for a more distributed network infrastructure places our facilities and access points adjacent to last-mile networks that serve both commercial and residential uses. As a result, through our vision for more distributed infrastructure, DartPoints is already solving this problem, facilitating a transition to enable data distribution even more effectively.
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.)
- The end never justifies the means. Relationships are important. Never jeopardize them or your integrity.
- Allow your teams and yourself to make mistakes. Learn from those mistakes and do it better. Be patient with yourself and learn how to make lemonade from scratch. A lot.
- Take in information from everyone, but always verify for yourself. Don’t make snap decisions, based on other’s data. There are a lot of assumptions masked as facts.
- You cannot know everything. Certainly, not all the time about everything. Rely on others and choose your team wisely and invest in them.
- Spread joy, not fear. Respect pales in comparison to Love. Love makes people run into burning buildings to save you. Respect makes people write really nice eulogies about you.
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 have been truly fortunate in my career and the opportunity to work with some great mentors and leaders. One of my biggest lessons has been that it’s important to look at the rising young ranks and to train, teach and empower them with both compassion and integrity. If we can guide, nurture and mentor, we provide a construct for learning that aligns with both existing visions and emerging realities to truly move forward rather than abandoning them to simply figure it all out on their own. There is a ton of independent thought out there. So how do we best empower future leaders and imbue them with the perspective that only seems to come from history and experience? Similar to the challenges we have with algorithms that further segment data into specific locales and ideals, by leaving young people to their own devices and notions, they risk becoming limited by the echo chamber effect of hyper targeting when it comes to thoughts and ideas. By bringing a young workforce under our wings, we help guide them toward what is right versus what feels right. We share lessons, highlighting the ‘why’ in all that we do, so they can prosper while applying their uniqueness, ideals, and values in a way we can all embrace. Instead of using a megaphone approach to aligning a younger workforce, one-on-one discussions foster conversations that allow the exchange of ideas and opinions that can be shaped and reshaped for mutual prosperity.
How can our readers further follow your work online? LinkedIn.
Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.