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Rock de Vocht

Craft of Code
Rock de Vocht - SimSage

AI Drives Customer-Centric Search

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Since his early days as a hobbyist programmer, Rock de Vocht has continually asked himself the same question: How can I communicate with a computer using human language?

“Growing up, I had a natural talent for both computers and learning human languages,” Rock recalled. “I wanted the computer to converse with me in English.” 

Born and raised in the Netherlands, Rock also lived in France and moved to New Zealand as a teenager. His journeys allowed him to learn several languages, including Dutch, German, French, and English, forming the foundation of his pursuits to understand how natural languages work.

Rock continued pursuing his interests at the University of Auckland, where he earned a master’s degree in computational linguistics. However, his studies never quite answered his original question. Rock began his career by writing software for the university’s language laboratories, a natural fit for a first job. “I spent many years rising through different organizations, always trying to improve myself as a developer,” Rock said. “When I felt my learning opportunities had peaked, I’d find another opportunity and challenge myself anew.”

Rock decided it was time to challenge himself with the one problem he hadn’t been able to solve. Along with his friend and business partner, Sean Wilson, Rock set out to create a search engine powered by meaning and natural language. This effort eventually developed into a powerful language understanding system. Rock and Sean formed a company called SimSage.

Rock’s idea for a search engine was to make it easier for users to navigate the myriad of information systems that all businesses have nowadays and find information ‘hidden’ in the documentation. SimSage delivers a competitive advantage for businesses, leading to increased customer engagement and retention, which their website search solution also provides.

Realizing how impactful their search engine innovation could be for users and businesses, Rock and Sean tried several cloud providers but were consistently dissatisfied with overly complicated offerings that were too expensive and created needless confusion.

So, SimSage made the jump to Linode.

“For me, as a developer, infrastructure should just work and be secure,” Rock said. “What impressed me about Linode is they kept this simple.”

Through Linode’s seamless connection with their preferred Linux operating system, Rock and Sean moved the entire SimSage infrastructure to Linode. Rock contacted Linode shortly after switching to ask about what extra support startups receive. “Linode came back to me immediately, and it really opened doors for us,” Rock said. “Linode made it possible for us to suddenly have access to technology and possibilities that we couldn’t afford as a startup otherwise.”

Rock and Sean tie the growth of SimSage to their ability to increase their infrastructure capabilities including dedicated compute instances, Linode Kubernetes Engine, and eventually, Linode Cloud GPUs. The company is currently capable of scanning and processing as many as two million documents at once, but Rock and Sean are partnering with Linode to set their goals much higher—to tens of millions of documents for clients worldwide.

Rather than feel constrained by their finances as a startup, Rock and Sean are empowered by the partnership with Linode to scale faster and expand into bigger markets throughout Europe and across the globe from hubs in London, Frankfurt, and Sydney.

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