Exit This Way
Bitly, the New York-based link-shortening and data analytics service, announced two big changes at the executive level this week. Yesterday, chief scientist Hilary Mason, who is arguably Bitly’s most visible employee, announced she would be moving on from the company to become the first ever data scientist in residence at venture firm Accel Partners. Though she’s been an advisor to Accel’s Big Data Fund since 2011, Ms. Mason is leaving Bitly to join Accel full time, where she will help to advise portfolio companies and evaluate potential investment areas.
Sometimes Silicon Alley can make your head spin: out of the blue, in a terse blog post, Bitly just announced that CEO Peter Stern has resigned in order to “pursue other interests.”
The Data Deluge
We’ve expected some big (data) developements from Bitly since the New York startup announced a $15 million Series C led by Khosla Ventures July. Today, chief data scientist Hilary Mason is finally ready to show you what they’re working with, empirically speaking.
The company announced the launch of three new data APIs that will radically boost the utility of the service for consumers and business clients. And it’s not even your birthday, data nerds!
Like “pivot” and “cloud computing,” “big data” is one of those startup buzzwords that gets thrown around indiscriminately–partly because it means different things depending on the intel you’re trying to unearth and partly because it sounds like the kind of futuristic jargon that opens doors. Using machine learning to analyze big data? We can practically see the pitch deck already!
As The Economist noted back in 2010, the deluge of large data sets unleashed by the digital age, “makes it possible to do many things that previously could not be done: spot business trends, prevent diseases, combat crime and so on. Managed well, the data can be used to unlock new sources of economic value, provide fresh insights into science and hold governments to account.”
Mad Data Science
DataGotham is currently unfolding downtown at NYU Stern, and around lunchtime, a roundtable gathered for a discussion of what it’s like to be the first data scientist at a company. Panelists included Tumblr’s Adam Laiacano, Kickstarter’s Fred Benenson, and Etsy’s Roberto Medri. The common denominators, according to moderator Hilary Mason? “A love of math, a curiosity, and a lot of stubbornness.”
Much of the discussion revolved around the weediest of data science topics, dwelling on R and SQL and so forth. But the best part was when each of the panelists–at the prompting of Ms. Mason–admitted to something that had gone horribly awry. Not just because everyone loves a good blooper reel, but because they provide a pretty good snapshot of what data scientists actually do.
Twitter tweeted out a post today spreading the word that, “We’re about to start wrapping all URLs regardless of their length with the t.co URL wrapper.” But chief scientist Hilary Mason told Betabeat it’s no big deal for bit.ly. “We don’t expect to see any changes,” she emailed.
Ms. Mason pointed out that Twitter has essentially been doing the same thing since August 24th. “The only change is that they will now wrap links under twenty characters, which means that there will actually be tweets longer than 140 characters,” she wrote, adding, “It hasn’t had much of an effect on bitly. We provide public analytics that people love!”
Two professors and a data scientist met in January last year over milkshakes, but it was with a sense of urgency. “We felt like we needed to do something as soon as possible, if not sooner,” said Chris Wiggins, an applied mathematics professor at Columbia. “There was starting to be an increase Read More