The founder and director of a tech firm harnessing the globe’s idle computing power said he plans to have one million devices using his platform by the end of 2020.

Matt Hawkins launched Cudo Ventures in 2017 after a track record of successful technology entrepreneurship.

He was previously founder of network services and data centre hosting business C4L from 2000, before it was acquired by CORTEX in 2016. He also founded internet connectivity firm MiMiC in 2012.

While successful in business, his time in the technology sector wasn’t making wider positive change in the world. It was time to combine his tech credentials with his need to give back.

Cudo Ventures is the result of that combination. The platform combines every major buzzword in modern tech: cloud, blockchain, cryptocurrency and FinTech. But its proposition is surprisingly simple.

Every device in the world – from office PCs to home laptops and phones – is left dormant for long periods of time. Around 30-50% at any given moment, says Hawkins.

These relatively low-powered devices are not made for processing AI calculation or rendering blockbuster films, but their combined clout is a force to be reckoned with – and one which AI firms and film studios are happy to pay for.

A gaming machine, Hawkins said, can earn anything from £20 to £100 a month.

“It’s kind of like Airbnb, that’s the principle behind it,” Hawkins told BusinessCloud. He explained that while the concept of shared computing power isn’t new, only in the last few years has consumer tech reached a realistic minimum standard.

“Airbnb is just connecting the supplier and the consumer, and we’re effectively doing the same and then paying that end user. That end user can then keep the money for themselves or donate it to charity.”

The firm’s technology is manifested in four products: Cudo Miner, which uses this combined computing power to mine cryptocurrency; Cudo Gamer, which is designed to allow high-end gaming PCs to earn its players in-game rewards; Cudo Donate, which sends the revenue created directly to charity; and Cudo Compute, its core product.

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Cudo Donate runs on a not-for-profit basis, using a commission to cover the costs of running the service. This commission also covers the carbon credits needed to offset the impact of the extra energy used by its borrowed devices.

Its Cudo Miner product generates the company’s profits. The software is white-labelled, which means its partners – both enterprise and charity brands – can either install the software in their firm’s devices or ask their donors to do the same on their home computer or phone.

Different settings allow each user to decide how much spare computing power to donate. On lower settings, Hawkins said the software, which runs in the background, makes effectively no impact on the lifespan of the device.

It currently has 80,000 users on the platform across its four products in 145 countries, some way short of the million users he plans to have by the end of the year.

“We had to get the technology to a certain technical level before we could really start pushing it,” he said.

“We have games companies rebranding it so that when gamers aren’t playing on their machine, they can earn credits or gift vouchers or whatever is relevant to their platform.”

It is now planning to release a cloud version of its software for businesses, which works with existing cloud infrastructure instead of consumer devices.

“The idea behind that is that it plugs into VMware and Hyper V and these other orchestration platforms, so that whenever firms have spare capacity, we can fill it with revenue for them,” he said.

“They can either donate those funds to charity, which is good for CSR, or they can use those compute resources for themselves.”

In cases where that extra enterprise power can’t be shared, such as in tightly regulated corporate governance, Cudo Ventures is also planning an enterprise version which is ring-fenced.

“They can use it for all of their own compute workloads across their devices,” he explained of the new feature. “That’s when I think it’s going to be more relevant.”

Hawkins said that 2020 would be the year that Cudo Ventures really makes an impact, but he is not straying from its original purpose.

“As much as anything, I want to grow the charity. We effectively run that as a not-for-profit,” said Hawkins of Cudo Donate.

“If we can get £50,000 to help children that’s just as valuable as one million users. It’s more about the impact it’s going to make. And the charities that need most of the help aren’t the big ones with the big budgets.

“If we can get users to donate 5% or 10% of what they earn to charity, that’s better. Those funds go directly to the charity. That’s really a big thing that I want to grow out.”