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Ajay- Describe how you started using R. What are some of the benefits you noticed on moving to R?
Jeff- I began using R in an internship while working on my undergraduate degree. I was provided with some unformatted R code and asked to modularize the code then wrap it up into an R package for distribution alongside a publication.
To be honest, as a Computer Science student with training more heavily emphasizing the big high-level languages, R took some getting used to for me. It wasn’t until after I concluded that initial project and began using R to do my own data analysis that I began to realize its potential and value. It was the first scripting language which really made interactive use appealing to me — the experience of exploring a dataset in R was unlike anything (more…)
I have been busy-
1) Finally my divorce came through. My advice – dont do it without a pre-nup ! Alimony means all the money.
2) Spending time on Quora after getting bored from LinkedIn, Twitter,Facebook,Google Plus,Tumblr, WordPress
See this answer to-
1) we will change the world
2) if we get 1% of a billion people market, we will be rich
3) if we have got funding, most of the job is done
4) lets pay ourselves high salaries since we got funded
5) our idea is awesome and cant be copied, improvised, stolen, replicated
6) startups are painless
7) it is a better life than a corporate career
8) long term vision is important than short term cash burn
9) we will never sell out or exit. never
10) its a great idea to make startups with friend
Say hello to me – http://www.quora.com/Ajay-Ohri/answers
3) Writing freelance articles on APIs for Programmable Web
Why write pro? See point 1)
4) Writing poetry on http://poemsforkush.com/. It now gets 23000 views a month. I wish I could say my poems were great, but the readers are kind (364 subscribers!) and also Google Image Search is very very kind.
5) Kicking tires with next book ” R for Cloud Computing” and be tuned for another writing announcement
6) Waiting for Paul Kent, VP, SAS Big Data to reply to my emails for interview after HE promised me!! You dont get to 105 interviews without being a bit stubborn!
7) Sighing on politics engulfing my American friends especially with regards to Chic-fil-A and Romney’s gaffes. Now thats what I call a first world problem! Protesting by eating or boycotting chicken sandwiches! In India we had the world’s biggest blackout two days in a row- and no one is attending the Hunger Fast against corruption protests!
8) Watching Olympics! Our glorious nation of 1.2 billion very smart people has managed to win 1 Bronze till today!! Michael Phelps has won more medals and more gold than the whole of India has since the Olympics Games began!!
9) Consulting to pay the bills. includes writing R code, making presentations. Why consult when I have writing to do? See point 1)
10) Reading New York Times to get insights on Big Data and Analytics. Trust them- they know what they are doing!
Here is an interview with Hjálmar Gíslason, CEO of Datamarket.com . DataMarket is an active marketplace for structured data and statistics. Through powerful search and visual data exploration, DataMarket connects data seekers with data providers.
HG- DataMarket is my fourth tech start-up since at age 20 in 1996. The previous ones have been in gaming, mobile and web search. I come from a technical background but have been moving more and more to the business side over the years. I can still prototype, but I hope there isn’t a single line of my code in production!
Funny you should ask about the 10 things that have surprised me the most on this journey, as I gave a presentation – literally yesterday – titled: “9 things nobody told me about the start-up business”
* Do NOT generalize – especially not to begin with
* Prioritize – and ﬁnd a work-ﬂow that works for you
* Meet people – face to face
* You are a sales person – whether you like it or not
* Technology is not a product – it’s the entire experience
* Sell the current version – no matter how amazing the next one is
* Learn from mistakes – preferably others’
* Pick the right people – good people is not enough
* Tell a good story – but don’t make them up
I obviously elaborate on each of these points in the talk, but the points illustrate roughly some of the things I believe I’ve learned … so far ;)
Both Amazon and Google have entered the public datasets space. Infochimps has 14,000+ public datasets. The US has http://www.data.gov/
So clearly the space is both competitive and yet the demand for public data repositories is clearly under served still.
How does DataMarket intend to address this market in a unique way to differentiate itself from others.
HG- DataMarket is about delivering business data to decision makers. We help data seekers find the data they need for planning and informed decision making, and data publishers reaching this audience. DataMarket.com is the meeting point, where data seekers can come to find the best available data, and data publishers can make their data available whether for free or for a fee. We’ve populated the site with a wealth of data from public sources such as the UN, Eurostat, World Bank, IMF and others, but there is also premium data that is only available to those that subscribe to and pay for the access. For example we resell the entire data offering from the EIU (Economist Intelligence Unit) (link: http://datamarket.com/data/list/?q=provider:eiu)
DataMarket.com allows all this data to be searched, visualized, compared and downloaded in a single place in a standard, unified manner.
We see many of these efforts not as competition, but as valuable potential sources of data for our offering, while others may be competing with parts of our proposition, such as easy access to the public data sets.
Ajay- What are your views on data confidentiality and access to data owned by Governments funded by tax payer money.
HG- My views are very simple: Any data that is gathered or created for taxpayers’ money should be open and free of charge unless higher priorities such as privacy or national security indicate otherwise.
Reflecting that, any data that is originally open and free of charge is still open and free of charge on DataMarket.com, just easier to find and work with.
HG- The scene is quite vibrant, given the small community. Good teams with promising concepts have been able to get the funding they need to get started and test their footing internationally. When the rapid growth phase is reached outside funding may still be needed.
There are positive and negative things about any location. Among the good things about Iceland from the stand point of a technology start-up are highly skilled tech people and a relatively simple corporate environment. Among the bad things are a tiny local market, lack of skills in international sales and marketing and capital controls that were put in place after the crash of the Icelandic economy in 2008.
I’ve jokingly said that if a company is hot in the eyes of VCs it would get funding even if it was located in the jungles of Congo, while if they’re only lukewarm towards you, they will be looking for any excuse not to invest. Location can certainly be one of them, and in that case being close to the investor communities – physically – can be very important.
We’re opening up our sales and marketing offices in Boston as we speak. Not to be close to investors though, but to be close to our market and current customers.
Ajay- Describe your hobbies when you are not founding amazing tech startups.
HG- Most of my time is spent working – which happens to by my number one hobby.
It is still important to step away from it all every now and then to see things in perspective and come back with a clear mind.
I *love* traveling to exotic places. Me and my wife have done quite a lot of traveling in Africa and S-America: safari, scuba diving, skiing, enjoying nature. When at home I try to do some sports activities 3-4 times a week at least, and – recently – play with my now 8 month old son as much as I can.
Hjálmar Gíslason, Founder and CEO: Hjalmar is a successful entrepreneur, founder of three startups in the gaming, mobile and web sectors since 1996. Prior to launching DataMarket, Hjalmar worked on new media and business development for companies in the Skipti Group (owners of Iceland Telecom) after their acquisition of his search startup – Spurl. Hjalmar offers a mix of business, strategy and technical expertise. DataMarket is based largely on his vision of the need for a global exchange for structured data.
To know more, have a quick look at http://datamarket.com/
SAS Institute has release it’s financials for 2011 at http://www.sas.com/news/preleases/2011financials.html,
Revenue surged across all solution and industry categories. Software to detect fraud saw a triple-digit jump. Revenue from on-demand solutions grew almost 50 percent. Growth from analytics and information management solutions were double digit, as were gains from customer intelligence, retail, risk and supply chain solutions
AJAY- and as a private company it is quite nice that they are willing to share so much information every year.
The graphics are nice ( and the colors much better than in 2010) , but pie-charts- seriously dude there is no way to compare how much SAS revenue is shifting across geographies or even across industries. So my two cents is – lose the pie charts, and stick to line graphs please for the share of revenue by country /industry.
In 2011, SAS grew staff 9.2 percent and reinvested 24 percent of revenue into research and development
AJAY- So that means 654 million dollars spent in Research and Development. I wonder if SAS has considered investing in much smaller startups (than it’s traditional strategy of doing all research in-house and completely acquiring a smaller company)
Even a small investment of say 5-10 million USD in open source , or even Phd level research projects could greatly increase the ROI on that.
Analyzing a private company’s financials are much more fun than a public company, and I remember the words of my finance professor ( “dig , dig”) to compare 2011 results with 2010 results.
The percentage invested in R and D is exactly the same (24%) and the percentages of revenue earned from each geography is exactly the same . So even though revenue growth increased from 5.2 % to 9% in 2011, both the geographic spread of revenues and share R&D costs remained EXACTLY the same.
The Americas accounted for 46 percent of total revenue; Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) 42 percent; and Asia Pacific 12 percent.
Overall, I think SAS remains a 35% market share (despite all that noise from IBM, SAS clones, open source) because they are good at providing solutions customized for industries (instead of just software products), the market for analytics is not saturated (it seems to be growing faster than 12% or is it) , and its ability to attract and retain the best analytical talent (which in a non -American tradition for a software company means no stock options, job security, and great benefits- SAS remains almost Japanese in HR practices).
In 2010, SAS grew staff by 2.4 percent, in 2011 SAS grew staff by 9 percent.
But I liked the directional statement made here-and I think that design interfaces, algorithmic and computational efficiencies should increase analytical time, time to think on business and reduce data management time further!
“What would you do with the extra time if your code ran in two minutes instead of five hours?” Goodnight challenged.
Events in the field of data that impacted us in 2011
1) Oracle unveiled plans for R Enterprise. This is one of the strongest statements of its focus on in-database analytics. Oracle also unveiled plans for a Public Cloud
2) SAS Institute released version 9.3 , a major analytics software in industry use.
3) IBM acquired many companies in analytics and high tech. Again.However the expected benefits from Cognos-SPSS integration are yet to show a spectacular change in market share.
2011 Selected acquisitions
Q1 Labs October 2011
Algorithmics September 2011i2 August 2011
Tririga March 2011
4) SAP promised a lot with SAP HANA- again no major oohs and ahs in terms of market share fluctuations within analytics.
5) Amazon continued to lower prices of cloud computing and offer more options.
6) Google continues to dilly -dally with its analytics and cloud based APIs. I do not expect all the APIs in the Google APIs suit to survive and be viable in the enterprise software space. This includes Google Cloud Storage, Cloud SQL, Prediction API at https://code.google.com/apis/console/b/0/ Some of the location based , translation based APIs may have interesting spin offs that may be very very commercially lucrative.
7) Microsoft -did- hmm- I forgot. Except for its investment in Revolution Analytics round 1 many seasons ago- very little excitement has come from MS plans in data mining- The plugins for cloud based data mining from Excel remain promising yet , while Azure remains a stealth mode starter.
8) Revolution Analytics promised us a GUI and didnt deliver (till yet :) ) . But it did reveal a much better Enterprise software Revolution R 5.0 is one of the strongest enterprise software in the R /Stat Computing space and R’s memory handling problem is now an issue of perception than actual stuff thanks to newer advances in how it is used.
9) More conferences, more books and more news on analytics startups in 2011. Big Data analytics remained a strong buzzword. Expect more from this space including creative uses of Hadoop based infrastructure.
10) Data privacy issues continue to hamper and impede effective analytics usage. So does rational and balanced regulation in some of the most advanced economies. We expect more regulation and better guidelines in 2012.
Here is an interview with Markus Schmidberger, Senior Community Manager for cloudnumbers.com. Cloudnumbers.com is the exciting new cloud startup for scientific computing. It basically enables transition to a R and other platforms in the cloud and makes it very easy and secure from the traditional desktop/server model of operation.
Ajay- Describe the startup story for setting up Cloudnumbers.com
Markus- In 2010 the company founders Erik Muttersbach (TU München), Markus Fensterer (TU München) and Moritz v. Petersdorff-Campen (WHU Vallendar) started with the development of the cloud computing environment. (more…)