• Gifford

Hi, I'm Chris and I work at Decent.


What is your role at Decent?

I am the vice president of engineering which means I am responsible for defining, evangelizing, and executing the technical vision and strategy at Decent. To accomplish this, I am also responsible for recruiting, managing and mentoring our world-class team that is turning this vision into reality. If you are a talented developer or know of one that also believes in our mission please reach out.

What is your background?

I would describe myself as a business-minded technical leader and entrepreneur who loves building innovative products. Throughout my career, spent entirely at early-stage companies, I have strived to stay ahead of technology trends and sought ways to increase developer velocity through automation.

Early in my career I joined a Seattle startup called WatchGuard, pioneer of the firewall/VPN appliance. At WatchGuard I learned how to distill customer feedback down to the essential bits of technology needed to deliver the desired features -- today we call this an MVP. I was proud to lead a team of awesome developers to build an award-winning, and market-leading product.

I co-founded my first company, Napera, during the birth of cloud computing. As CTO, I built a high-powered team of developers that introduced cloud-managed network security infrastructure to the world.

Most recently, I have immersed myself into the world of blockchain and using it to improve how humans create and use privacy-preserving digital identities. Public blockchains are an important building block for trusted digital identities so I continue to stay involved with efforts to advance this technology.

For the developers reading this: emacs over vi, spaces over tabs, and my favorite language is **HR-CENSORED**.

Why is improving healthcare important to you?

I learned firsthand how technology can be used to improve healthcare at my first job. I joined a startup called NeoPath, and we were building the first automated pap smear screener. Using machine vision, our device would analyze pap smear slides and flag those that may contain cancer. During one of our clinical trials, we were processing a historical collection of slides and found one containing cancer that had previously been missed by human screening. This finding may have saved this woman’s life, and nothing can make you feel better than that.

Two years ago, I learned how important good health insurance can be and why getting it through your employer is broken. Shortly after closing a seed round, my company was able to offer health insurance to our employees. A few months later, I crushed my spine in a freak injury during a soccer game and I found myself needing emergency spinal surgery. Were it not for my insurance this surgery would have certainly created a big financial hardship. This is exactly what insurance is for, spreading the risk of these low-probability expensive events across a pool of people.

The challenge came a year later during open enrollment when our PEO raised our monthly premiums by more than 200%. We were a startup with just a few employees, so I was forced to cancel our insurance and once again begin looking for coverage.

Why were you motivated to join Decent?

I joined Decent to help fix this broken insurance model. I was drawn to Decent after reading “US healthcare needs a nervous system” written by Nick, our CEO. I agree with him that we need to align our incentives around affordable care and that networks beat companies. I also think that using blockchain technology to build this network with aligned incentives is a game-changer. After meeting the team and learning more about their awesome culture, I had to join them on this mission.

Describe something not-work related you are passionate about?

When I am not building technology, I enjoy watching, coaching and playing soccer. (Yes, my doctors have given me the green light to continue playing again.) I also enjoy family, especially day trips with my wife, concerts with my kids, and a weekly family dinner tradition that we all look forward to.

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