OPINION PIECE: Paul Murphy Is Not Baking Sourdough
02/07/2020 — by Paul Murphy
I love unusual circumstances, so it’s not surprising that I’ve lived and started businesses on four continents. It’s possible, though, that my love of the abnormal is, well, abnormal. While most everyone I know complains about lockdowns and travel restrictions, I’m exhilarated by the constraints. It feels a bit like time travel.
Until the 20th Century our ancestors rarely left their place of birth. If they did, it was usually a one-way trip. As much as I love to travel, I’m starting to realise that not being able to isn’t so bad. I’m getting to know my village neighbours and their ancestors better than I have in the prior thirty years I’ve been coming here. I say their ancestors because I’ve been going to the cemetery with some of the older folks, and they’ve been introducing me to their families. Last week, I met a neighbour’s father who hung himself outside the church when she was twelve. She still visits him once a week. I also met a three year old girl who died in a kitchen accident (too gruesome to repeat here) and her two brothers who died in the last war. Time travel indeed.
As regular readers know, I’ve been building a crypto business in Hong Kong and Singapore. Unlike a lot of tech businesses, our customers have been severely impacted by Covid-19. This is because the high level of security required by many crypto businesses doesn’t lend itself well to employees working from home and accessing the core network. Although the industry has done relatively well compared to many others, it has slowed noticeably.
Just as I started getting a little bit restless, an old friend called and asked if I might be interested in helping two of his kids build a product that they’d designed after being kicked out of Stanford. They weren’t actually kicked out –they were sent home– but to them, it didn’t feel much different. Their idea was simple and absolutely necessary, but implementing it was going to be hard.
So, of course, I signed up. That was two months ago, and I haven’t gotten eight hours of continuous sleep since then. My idea of heaven.
We formed a company, built a team (distributed –naturally), and the ‘kids’ are now the company’s CEOs. We’re launching the product into restricted beta today. The product, Toucan, is a platform for hosting casual social events. Ever been to a Zoom birthday party, or, as I like to call it, a grid full of people pretending to be having a good time? Painful. The same birthday party on Toucan is both natural and fun.
I know this sounds like a plug. It is, but in a ‘isn’t my baby the cutest thing you’ve ever seen’ kind of way. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done so far. And I’m excited. I think it’s going to make the remainder of this viral outbreak less painful for a lot of people. And now that so many businesses are going virtual, I’m convinced that we’re going to need to continue to socialise virtually, even after this crisis has passed.
By the way, I happen to love sourdough –and I cook a lot– but on this occasion, I hope I’ve managed to help cook up a dish that will be enjoyed by a lot more people than just my immediate family. We’ll see.
If you sign up for the beta, drop me a line. I have a bit of influence over that process ;)
Paul Murphy’s software career has primarily focused on financial services and voice. On Wall Street he worked on a broad range of front and back office systems. He then became obsessed with the human voice as interface, building tools and applications that interacted with users over telephones. This obsession culminated in the founding of Clarify, which developed cutting edge speech recognition and language processing software for conversations. With Credmark, Paul is re-entering the finance space because he firmly believes that crypto is the foundation of the next global financial system.
This article does not constitute legal advice.
The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.