My good friend Ori Allon recently published a an overview of the fund raising strategy employed by his previous startups and now at his current upstart Compass. Ori's first two startups were acquired by Google and by Twitter. So needless to say, very few entrepreneurs find themselves having the luxury of starting out with an $8 million seed round as he and Robert did at Compass.Read More
When Daniel lost it's third Michelin star, the NYC restaurant world was up in arms. One of only ten restaurants in the country with an esteemed three star rating, the Michelin overlords had apparently decided that the USA would suffer through 2015 with only nine three star establishments.
For the unacquainted, the heralded guide was first published by Andrew Michelin himself way back in the year 1900. Designed to help motorists find their way around the French countryside and to the best in fine linen dining, the guide has maintained itself today as the gold standard in upmarket restaurant reviews.Read More
Your A/B testing system is hot off the press, you've integrated with Optimizely, Google's Content Experiments, or maybe deployed some code of your own. You open your eyes, look around, and see a whole new world of experimental opportunities.
But suddenly, you start asking more questions and forming more hypotheses than one could possibly answer in a lifetime. Should you start testing 41 shades of background hues to see what's most attention grabbing? Maybe start by testing a rewrite of every piece of copy on your site? Or maybe you should start A/B/C/D testing your web fonts?Read More
Last Minute Eatin' has been running for over two months now and has tweeted over 1,500 tables since launch. LME knows exactly when and where tables are open, and you can now visualize these openings with the Last Minute Eatin' Explorer. Every day at midnight, LME checks availability for almost 1,000 restaurants on OpenTable, and the infographic shows which restaurants and neighborhoods have prime time (between 7 and 10pm) tables available. Read more about LME data and how it works.Read More
Mixpanel is a great analytics tool for small to medium sized web and mobile shops. And not surprisingly, their analytics product has pretty good adoption (over 1,400 companies using it, according to their homepage).
One things I've noticed, however, is that as some of these shops grow in size, they slowly start to ask more than Mixpanel can answer. Their data science team may want to do some in-depth analysis over customer lifetime value. Their product team wants to do some deeper funnel analysis comparing variants in a recent A/B test. Or their search team wants to do some click-depth inference on long-tailed queries.Read More
You've read about the virtues of A/B testing feature releases. You love iterating quickly, testing quickly, and continually learning in a data-driven fashion. You appreciate the importance of keeping an eye on the statistics behind your testing, and perhaps you even use a tool or two to make sure your results are statistically valid.
But, you ran a test last week, the results have been coming in for some time now, but, the data just doesn't look quite right.Read More
There's been a lot of hoopla recently about so-called high frequency restaurant reservation trading. Are computers stealing my reservations? Will I ever get into Per Se again? It's Saturday night, I have a hot date but no table, am I screwed?
Last Wednesday, I launched Last Minute Eatin', a same day reservation service that tweets New York's hottest tables. While the service has only been running publicly for a couple of days now, I've been running it silently for quite some time, and it's been monitoring thousands of restaurants for several months now.Read More
Do you love eating out but hate making plans? There’s nothing worse than trying to find a great table when you need it most, only to find that all your favorite places are completely booked. New York City can be expensive, but the thought of eating bad food at a second or third tier restaurant is unpalatable.
Last Minute Eatin’ is an experiment in immediate gratification and schedule free living. When same day restaurant openings come up, they get tweeted from @LastMinuteEatin along with a link to make your reservation on OpenTable. Last Minute Eatin’ continuously monitors thousands of reservation openings and cancellations every day, so if you see a table tweeted, rest assured it’s one of the hottest tables in the city for your last minute plans.Read More
It's been rainy here in NYC as of late. Just about the only thing worse than 90 degree city heat is 90 degree city heat with intense thunderstorms roaring through. So I find myself indoors when it rains, crunching data, writing code, checking into GitHub.
Of course I'm not unique here. There are thousands of other GitHub coders in New York and millions of contributors worldwide. The data scientist inside of me asks questions. Is it possible to measure these effects? And if so, exactly how much more do people code when it's rainy?Read More
Dan McKinley recently put together a very useful tool in estimating how long to run your A/B tests.
The obvious corollary here being, “your experiments will take much longer than you think”.
Let’s dive into some real-world numbers.Read More
Etsy acquired my startup Adtuitive in 2009. At the time, we had a pretty cool product that automated online advertising for small retailers, and we were operating at a modest scale of 200 million ads a month.
Deciding to sell the company was tough, but the last three years at Etsy were awesome. I had the privilege of working with very talented folks across a full stack of things, from Hadoop infrastructure to search ranking to search UI. And of course, search ads. During this time period, I saw Etsy grow from $180 million in 2009 sales, to over $80 million last October alone. My team grew from Adtuitive’s engineering team of only 4 to almost 30 in total.Read More
If you eat out in New York City, the image above should evoke some sort of visceral reaction. In July of 2010, the NYC Department of Health began rating each of the 24,000 restaurants throughout the five boroughs of the city. Each restaurant is given a grade of "A", "B", or "C" based on violations ranging from improper food temperature to sewage problems to the presence of vermin. You can browse the complete list here.
Fast forward 2 years, and the new system seems to be a win for consumers - Mayor Bloomberg credits the program to a 14% reduction in Salmonella, the lowest rate in 20 years. And according to this press release, NYC restaurant revenue is also up 9.3% since grading began. But still many restauranteurs disagree, expressing anger over these health inspections. Restaurants complain about the complexity in understanding the grading system, fighting with the city over infraction points, and spending additional money to maintain their facilities to meet the city's guidelines.Read More
The Wall Street Journal recently had a piece on investing in the Facebook IPO. They admit, “most retail investors will be shut out of the offering and won't get the IPO price, meaning they likely will have to pay more in the days that follow if they want an early piece of the action”.
To see what’s going on here, let’s take a closer look at what happens on the day of the IPO. In pricing the IPO, there are two prices to consider: the offer price, and the open price. The offer price is set by the company and underwriters. This is the stock price that the company receives in its IPO sale. The open price is set by the publicly traded market on the day the company goes public.Read More
I love innovation. I love working with smart people. And I love working with limited resources around extremely tight deadlines.
3 Day Startup: 30 bright entrepreneurs. Ideas flow Friday night, business plan and product demo need to happen by Sunday night.
The program started out of UT Austin, and I attended as a participant at their first event. I actually pitched the idea that the group ended up building that weekend, which ended up spinning out into a company now called Moodfish. Nik has since taken Moodfish 1000x further, well beyond the simple idea I had. 3DS has grown tremendously since and is now a worldwide operation. They've held events in Germany, Spain, The Netherlands, France, Portugal, Israel, Chile, and China.Read More
The Lending Club is an online marketplace for loans. As a borrower, you can apply for a loan, and if accepted, your loan gets listed in the marketplace. As an investor, you can browse loans in the marketplace, and invest in individual loans at your discretion. This peer to peer model has many advantages over traditional banking counterparts, for example, lower overhead costs, lower cost of capital, etc.
But what excites me the most about peer to peer lending is the democratization of data. As an investor, you can see each and every rejected, completed, ongoing, and available loan. While loan data excludes personally identifiable information, it does include attributes like credit rating, location, college education level, lines of credit, and descriptions of why the applicant needs the loan.Read More
When I was working on my PhD in Austin I got involved with a group called 3 Day Startup (3DS). The idea is simple: get 40 bright, motivated, and entrepreneurial students in a room for 3 days, and have them build something. 3DS has grown since I attended their first 3 day event, and they now hold these events world wide. They'll be holding their first 3DS in NYC on April 20, and I'll be helping out (as an advisor this time and a sponsor through Etsy). Luke Carrière is organizing the event, and he sent me a list of questions about my startup experience, answered here.
What is your advice to future entrepreneurs? Do what you love, and start a company if that’s your passion. Entrepreneurship is about value creation, disruption of current standards, and ownership. How did you recognize the opportunity/research the feasibility of the idea?Read More
When I was working on my PhD living in Austin, I owned several motorcycles, and spent lots of time online researching parts, upgrades, repairs, etc. on sites like svrider.com and vfrworld.com. Without sites like these, when I had a problem with my motorcycle, I would have had to read the shop manual, go to the parts store, talk to a mechanic, call friends to ask for help, etc. I still did these things on occasion, but online resources made information more immediately accessible, and made my research much more efficient. This sort of information availability is one of the defining disruptions of the web.And not surprisingly, deep content is really my favorite “part” of the web. But internet ads, especially those on many of the sites I frequent, just don’t get my attention. Many ad networks today claim to have awesome semantic targeting technology that can develop complex models of interpreting content in order to place the most relevant ad. But if a forum post is discussing steel brake lines for a motrcycle, and the ad network only has a generic ad for an auto parts store, then the placement can only be so relevant, regardless of technology. Some of the best content on the web is quite deep, but most ad inventory generally lacks required specificity. The reason why ad networks today aren’t able to get my attention has nothing to do with their technology. It has 100% due to lack of inventory.Read More
Precision and recall are two fundamental quality measures in search and information retrieval applications. Google is fundamentally a search application. But Google doesn't need to optimize for recall, it just optimizes for precision. When I Google for “Michael Jordan”, I’m really just looking for a single page about the basketball legend. A search application’s ability to find *all* pages about “Michael Jordan” is a measure of recall, and users don't want to read thousands of pages about Mike, so Google doesn't optimize for this. Optimizing for recall is hard, and I spent most of my academic life working on algorithms to improve this measure. At an intuitive level, these algorithms "discover" relational inferences between various entities. For example, basketball, court, and rim are related, whereas field goal, penalty shot, and slam dunk are not. At a technical level, these algorithms worked by learning a distance measure between objects. These distance metric learning algorithms did some very heavy lifting to show improvements in quality, but their improvements really only increased recall.Read More