Interview: Hjálmar Gíslason, CEO of DataMarket.com

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.

 

Ajay-  Describe your journey as an entrepreneur and techie in Iceland. What are the 10 things that surprised you most as a tech entrepreneur.

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”

They are:
* 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 😉

9 things nobody told me about the start-up business

Ajay-

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.

Ajay-  How is the technology entrepreneurship and venture capital scene in Iceland. What things work and what things can be improved?

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.

About-

http://datamarket.com/p/about/team/

Management

Hjalmar GislasonHjálmar 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.

hjalmar.gislason@datamarket.com

To know more, have a quick  look at  http://datamarket.com/

Love Bytes- a modern Indian play

Review= Love Bytes

I was here in Taj Vivanta,Mumbai India, as a guest and I caught up with a lovely new age play called Love Bytes.

Directed and written by Divya Palat http://www.divyapalat.com  , this play explores the emotional turbulences of the digiterati, the Facebook status changes, and the complete life cycle of the supply chain of love.

From teenage puppy love, to double income 1 kid, to geeky nerd afraid to talk to the beauteous girl in office,and the live in couple with no pressure to marry – this s when Harry met Sally  plus Its Complicated all mashed together with anthemic rock songs between the acts.

I loved the humor and the satire though the second act did drag on my nerves with the puns on African American rappers,  extinct parsis  species, and mild homophobia in father son relationships. One solo act stood out for the funny words..

Welcome brave new world of Bollywood.

Or maybe I should say Bollyway-wood.

Google – Turns the Page

Duderstadt Center "The Dude", which ...
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Meet Google’s new CEO

Larry Page
Co-Founder and President, Products

Larry Page was Google’s founding CEO and grew the company to more than 200 employees and profitability before moving into his role as president of products in April 2001. He continues to share responsibility for Google’s day-to-day operations with Eric Schmidt and Sergey Brin.

The son of Michigan State University computer science professor Dr. Carl Victor Page, Larry’s love of computers began at age six. While following in his father’s footsteps in academics, he became an honors graduate from the University of Michigan, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering, with a concentration on computer engineering. During his time in Ann Arbor, Larry built an inkjet printer out of Lego™ bricks.

While in the Ph.D. program in computer science at Stanford University, Larry met Sergey Brin, and together they developed and ran Google, which began operating in 1998. Larry went on leave from Stanford after earning his master’s degree.

In 2002, Larry was named a World Economic Forum Global Leader for Tomorrow. He is a member of the National Advisory Committee (NAC) of the University of Michigan College of Engineering, and together with co-founder Sergey Brin, Larry was honored with the Marconi Prize in 2004. He is a trustee on the board of the X PRIZE, and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2004.

and no coincidence but it reminded me of the Metallica video- Turn the Page. Forgive the Pun, herr Eric

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOibtqWo6z4

Assumptions on Guns

This is a very crude yet functional homemade g...
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While sitting in Delhi, India- I sometimes notice that there is one big new worthy gun related incident in the United States every six months (latest incident Gabrielle giffords incident) and the mythical NRA (which seems just as powerful as equally mythical Jewish American or Cuban American lobby ) . As someone who once trained to fire guns (.22 and SLR -rifles actually), comes from a gun friendly culture (namely Punjabi-North Indian), my dad carried a gun sometimes as a police officer during his 30 plus years of service, I dont really like guns (except when they are in a movie). My 3 yr old son likes guns a lot (for some peculiar genetic reason even though we are careful not to show him any violent TV or movie at all).

So to settle the whole guns are good- guns are bad thing I turned to the one resource -Internet

Here are some findings-

1) A lot of hard statistical data on guns is biased by the perspective of the writer- it reminds me of the old saying Lies, True lies and Statistics.

2) There is not a lot of hard data in terms of a universal research which can be quoted- unlike say lung cancer is caused by cigarettes- no broad research which can be definitive in this regards.

3) American , European and Asian attitudes on guns actually seem a function of historical availability , historic crime rates and cultural propensity for guns.

Switzerland and United States are two extreme outlier examples on gun causing violence causal statistics.

4) Lot of old and outdated data quoted selectively.

It seems you can fudge data about guns in the following ways-

1) Use relative per capita numbers vis a vis aggregate numbers

2) Compare and contrast gun numbers with crime numbers selectively

3) Remove drill down of type of firearm- like hand guns, rifles, automatic, semi automatic

Maybe I am being simplistic-but I found it easier to list credible data sources on guns than to summarize all assumptions on guns. Are guns good or bad- i dont know -it depends? Any research you can quote is welcome.

Data Sources on Guns and Firearms and Crime-

1) http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp

Ownership

* As of 2009, the United States has a population of 307 million people.[5]

* Based on production data from firearm manufacturers,[6] there are roughly 300 million firearms owned by civilians in the United States as of 2010. Of these, about 100 million are handguns.[7]

* Based upon surveys, the following are estimates of private firearm ownership in the U.S. as of 2010:

Households With a Gun Adults Owning a Gun Adults Owning a Handgun
Percentage 40-45% 30-34% 17-19%
Number 47-53 million 70-80 million 40-45 million

[8]

* A 2005 nationwide Gallup poll of 1,012 adults found the following levels of firearm ownership:

Category Percentage Owning 

a Firearm

Households 42%
Individuals 30%
Male 47%
Female 13%
White 33%
Nonwhite 18%
Republican 41%
Independent 27%
Democrat 23%

[9]

* In the same poll, gun owners stated they own firearms for the following reasons:

Protection Against Crime 67%
Target Shooting 66%
Hunting 41%

2) NationMaster.com

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_mur_wit_fir-crime-murders-with-firearms

VIEW DATA: Totals Per capita
Definition Source Printable version
Bar Graph Pie Chart Map

Showing latest available data.

Rank Countries Amount
# 1 South Africa: 31,918
# 2 Colombia: 21,898
# 3 Thailand: 20,032
# 4 United States: 9,369
# 5 Philippines: 7,708
# 6 Mexico: 2,606
# 7 Slovakia: 2,356
# 8 El Salvador: 1,441
# 9 Zimbabwe: 598
# 10 Peru: 442
# 11 Germany: 269
# 12 Czech Republic: 181
# 13 Ukraine: 173
# 14 Canada: 144
# 15 Albania: 135
# 16 Costa Rica: 131
# 17 Azerbaijan: 120
# 18 Poland: 111
# 19 Uruguay: 109
# 20 Spain: 97
# 21 Portugal: 90
# 22 Croatia: 76
# 23 Switzerland: 68
# 24 Bulgaria: 63
# 25 Australia: 59
# 26 Sweden: 58
# 27 Bolivia: 52
# 28 Japan: 47
# 29 Slovenia: 39
= 30 Hungary: 38
= 30 Belarus: 38
# 32 Latvia: 28
# 33 Burma: 27
# 34 Macedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of: 26
# 35 Austria: 25
# 36 Estonia: 21
# 37 Moldova: 20
# 38 Lithuania: 16
= 39 United Kingdom: 14
= 39 Denmark: 14
# 41 Ireland: 12
# 42 New Zealand: 10
# 43 Chile: 9
# 44 Cyprus: 4
# 45 Morocco: 1
= 46 Iceland: 0
= 46 Luxembourg: 0
= 46 Oman: 0
Total: 100,693
Weighted average: 2,097.8

DEFINITION: Total recorded intentional homicides committed with a firearm. Crime statistics are often better indicators of prevalence of law enforcement and willingness to report crime, than actual prevalence.

SOURCE: The Eighth United Nations Survey on Crime Trends and the Operations of Criminal Justice Systems (2002) (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Centre for International Crime Prevention)

3)

Bureau of Justice Statistics

see

http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/dataonline/Search/Homicide/State/RunHomTrendsInOneVar.cfm

or the brand new website (till 2009) on which I CANNOT get gun crime but can get total

http://www.ucrdatatool.gov/

Estimated  murder rate *
Year United States-Total

1960 5.1
1961 4.8
1962 4.6
1963 4.6
1964 4.9
1965 5.1
1966 5.6
1967 6.2
1968 6.9
1969 7.3
1970 7.9
1971 8.6
1972 9.0
1973 9.4
1974 9.8
1975 9.6
1976 8.7
1977 8.8
1978 9.0
1979 9.8
1980 10.2
1981 9.8
1982 9.1
1983 8.3
1984 7.9
1985 8.0
1986 8.6
1987 8.3
1988 8.5
1989 8.7
1990 9.4
1991 9.8
1992 9.3
1993 9.5
1994 9.0
1995 8.2
1996 7.4
1997 6.8
1998 6.3
1999 5.7
2000 5.5
2001 5.6
2002 5.6
2003 5.7
2004 5.5
2005 5.6
2006 5.7
2007 5.6
2008 5.4
2009 5.0
Notes: National or state offense totals are based on data from all reporting agencies and estimates for unreported areas.
* Rates are the number of reported offenses per 100,000 population
  • United States-Total –
    • The 168 murder and nonnegligent homicides that occurred as a result of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 are included in the national estimate.
    • The 2,823 murder and nonnegligent homicides that occurred as a result of the events of September 11, 2001, are not included in the national estimates.

     

  • Sources: 


    FBI, Uniform Crime Reports as prepared by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data


    4) united nation statistics of 2002  were too old in my opinion.
    wikipedia seems too broad based to qualify as a research article but is easily accessible http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States
    to actually buy a gun or see guns available for purchase in United States see
    http://www.usautoweapons.com/

    Interview Ajay Ohri Decisionstats.com with DMR

    From-

    http://www.dataminingblog.com/data-mining-research-interview-ajay-ohri/

    Here is the winner of the Data Mining Research People Award 2010: Ajay Ohri! Thanks to Ajay for giving some time to answer Data Mining Research questions. And all the best to his blog, Decision Stat!

    Data Mining Research (DMR): Could you please introduce yourself to the readers of Data Mining Research?

    Ajay Ohri (AO): I am a business consultant and writer based out of Delhi- India. I have been working in and around the field of business analytics since 2004, and have worked with some very good and big companies primarily in financial analytics and outsourced analytics. Since 2007, I have been writing my blog at http://decisionstats.com which now has almost 10,000 views monthly.

    All in all, I wrote about data, and my hobby is also writing (poetry). Both my hobby and my profession stem from my education ( a masters in business, and a bachelors in mechanical engineering).

    My research interests in data mining are interfaces (simpler interfaces to enable better data mining), education (making data mining less complex and accessible to more people and students), and time series and regression (specifically ARIMAX)
    In business my research interests software marketing strategies (open source, Software as a service, advertising supported versus traditional licensing) and creation of technology and entrepreneurial hubs (like Palo Alto and Research Triangle, or Bangalore India).

    DMR: I know you have worked with both SAS and R. Could you give your opinion about these two data mining tools?

    AO: As per my understanding, SAS stands for SAS language, SAS Institute and SAS software platform. The terms are interchangeably used by people in industry and academia- but there have been some branding issues on this.
    I have not worked much with SAS Enterprise Miner , probably because I could not afford it as business consultant, and organizations I worked with did not have a budget for Enterprise Miner.
    I have worked alone and in teams with Base SAS, SAS Stat, SAS Access, and SAS ETS- and JMP. Also I worked with SAS BI but as a user to extract information.
    You could say my use of SAS platform was mostly in predictive analytics and reporting, but I have a couple of projects under my belt for knowledge discovery and data mining, and pattern analysis. Again some of my SAS experience is a bit dated for almost 1 year ago.

    I really like specific parts of SAS platform – as in the interface design of JMP (which is better than Enterprise Guide or Base SAS ) -and Proc Sort in Base SAS- I guess sequential processing of data makes SAS way faster- though with computing evolving from Desktops/Servers to even cheaper time shared cloud computers- I am not sure how long Base SAS and SAS Stat can hold this unique selling proposition.

    I dislike the clutter in SAS Stat output, it confuses me with too much information, and I dislike shoddy graphics in the rendering output of graphical engine of SAS. Its shoddy coding work in SAS/Graph and if JMP can give better graphics why is legacy source code preventing SAS platform from doing a better job of it.

    I sometimes think the best part of SAS is actually code written by Goodnight and Sall in 1970’s , the latest procs don’t impress me much.

    SAS as a company is something I admire especially for its way of treating employees globally- but it is strange to see the rest of tech industry not following it. Also I don’t like over aggression and the SAS versus Rest of the Analytics /Data Mining World mentality that I sometimes pick up when I deal with industry thought leaders.

    I think making SAS Enterprise Miner, JMP, and Base SAS in a completely new web interface priced at per hour rates is my wishlist but I guess I am a bit sentimental here- most data miners I know from early 2000’s did start with SAS as their first bread earning software. Also I think SAS needs to be better priced in Business Intelligence- it seems quite cheap in BI compared to Cognos/IBM but expensive in analytical licensing.

    If you are a new stats or business student, chances are – you may know much more R than SAS today. The shift in education at least has been very rapid, and I guess R is also more of a platform than a analytics or data mining software.

    I like a lot of things in R- from graphics, to better data mining packages, modular design of software, but above all I like the can do kick ass spirit of R community. Lots of young people collaborating with lots of young to old professors, and the energy is infectious. Everybody is a CEO in R ’s world. Latest data mining algols will probably start in R, published in journals.

    Which is better for data mining SAS or R? It depends on your data and your deadline. The golden rule of management and business is -it depends.

    Also I have worked with a lot of KXEN, SQL, SPSS.

    DMR: Can you tell us more about Decision Stats? You have a traffic of 120′000 for 2010. How did you reach such a success?

    AO: I don’t think 120,000 is a success. Its not a failure. It just happened- the more I wrote, the more people read.In 2007-2008 I used to obsess over traffic. I tried SEO, comments, back linking, and I did some black hat experimental stuff. Some of it worked- some didn’t.

    In the end, I started asking questions and interviewing people. To my surprise, senior management is almost always more candid , frank and honest about their views while middle managers, public relations, marketing folks can be defensive.

    Social Media helped a bit- Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook really helped my network of friends who I suppose acted as informal ambassadors to spread the word.
    Again I was constrained by necessity than choices- my middle class finances ( I also had a baby son in 2007-my current laptop still has some broken keys :) – by my inability to afford traveling to conferences, and my location Delhi isn’t really a tech hub.

    The more questions I asked around the internet, the more people responded, and I wrote it all down.

    I guess I just was lucky to meet a lot of nice people on the internet who took time to mentor and educate me.

    I tried building other websites but didn’t succeed so i guess I really don’t know. I am not a smart coder, not very clever at writing but I do try to be honest.

    Basic economics says pricing is proportional to demand and inversely proportional to supply. Honest and candid opinions have infinite demand and an uncertain supply.

    DMR: There is a rumor about a R book you plan to publish in 2011 :-) Can you confirm the rumor and tell us more?

    AO: I just signed a contract with Springer for ” R for Business Analytics”. R is a great software, and lots of books for statistically trained people, but I felt like writing a book for the MBAs and existing analytics users- on how to easily transition to R for Analytics.

    Like any language there are tricks and tweaks in R, and with a focus on code editors, IDE, GUI, web interfaces, R’s famous learning curve can be bent a bit.

    Making analytics beautiful, and simpler to use is always a passion for me. With 3000 packages, R can be used for a lot more things and a lot more simply than is commonly understood.
    The target audience however is business analysts- or people working in corporate environments.

    Brief Bio-
    Ajay Ohri has been working in the field of analytics since 2004 , when it was a still nascent emerging Industries in India. He has worked with the top two Indian outsourcers listed on NYSE,and with Citigroup on cross sell analytics where he helped sell an extra 50000 credit cards by cross sell analytics .He was one of the very first independent data mining consultants in India working on analytics products and domestic Indian market analytics .He regularly writes on analytics topics on his web site www.decisionstats.com and is currently working on open source analytical tools like R besides analytical software like SPSS and SAS.

    Light Cycle of Tron review

    comiccon2010-6814.jpg
    Image by YGX via Flickr

    I really enjoyed the Light Cycle race in Tron- so instead of naming this the Tron Legacy Review- I call this Light cycle review.

    The movie is a geek must check it out- and the mix of music, models,cars, and lights can be heady at first. The younger Jeff Bridges looks like a BeoWolf, and his son is ok. But Olivia Wilde is nice- and the cars and bikes are superb. If you like playing video games then check out the free game at http://armagetronad.net/downloads.php Its called Armagedtron.

    And boy the 80s was a great time for pop music and video games.

    Happy Thanksgiving Id

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eid_al-Adha

    Eid al-Adha (Arabic: عيد الأضحى‎ ‘Īdu l-’Aḍḥā) or “Festival of Sacrifice” or

    “Greater Eid” is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims

    worldwide to commemorate the willingness of Abraham (Ibrahim) to

    sacrifice his son Ishmael (Isma’il) as an act of obedience to God, before

    God intervened to provide him with a ram (uncastrated male sheep) to

    sacrifice instead.[1]

    The meat is divided into three parts to be distributed to others. The family retains one third of the share, another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors, and the other third is given to the poor & needy.

    Eid al-Adha is the latter of two Eid festivals celebrated by Muslims, whose basis comes from Sura 2 (Al-Baqara) Ayah 196 in the Qur’an.

     

    The incident with Abraham and God is also mentioned in Old Testament

    1431 (Islamic Calendar): November 16, 2010.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binding_of_Isaac

    The Binding of Isaac, in Genesis 22:1-24 is a story from the Hebrew Bible in which God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah.

    The narration is referred to as the Akedah (עקדה) or Akedat Yitzchak (עקידת יצחק) in Hebrew and as the Dhabih (ذبيح) in Arabic. The sacrifice itself is called an Olah in Hebrew — for the significance of sacrifices, especially in Biblical times, see korban.

    Thanksgiving

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanksgiving#cite_note-Encyclop.C3.A6dia_Britannica-0

    Thanksgiving Day is a harvest festival celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada.

    Thanksgiving was a holiday to express thankfulness, gratitude, and appreciation to God, family and friends for which all have been blessed of material possessions and relationships.

    Traditionally, it has been a time to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. This holiday has since moved away from its religious roots.

    Note from Ajay-

    Goats are slaughtered on Id and Turkeys on Thanksgiving

    Happy Holidays to you.

    Related Articles-

    https://decisionstats.com/2010/09/18/happy-yom-kippur/

    http://www.oyate.org/resources/shortthanks.html

    (Id is  a holiday in secular India as we celebrate Minority Festivals-by constitutional law )