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Data Week: Three Startups That Tell Amazing Stories With Their User Data

Three Startups That Tell Amazing Stories With Their Data

Most startups struggle to get their story heard by the press. Fortunately data can be  a secret weapon.

Data tells a story all its own, by giving a consistent voice to the behavior of large, diverse groups of users. In an increasingly noisy media landscape, companies that can tell great stories with their data stand the greatest chance of establishing valuable relationships with journalists, grabbing the attention of customers, and engaging strategic partners.

The following are three examples of companies who turned their platform data into entertaining, enlightening and compelling stories. In the process they became regular fixtures in the press, grew their brand and expanded their customer base.


OK Cupid

The OK Cupid company blog OK Trends is the mother of all data storytelling sites. Although it hasn’t been updated since April 2011, it will be a case study for years to come. The popular free dating site had 3.5 million users when it was purchased by Match.com for $50 million, and much of the value was the detailed personal information users shared about themselves in hopes of finding love.

OK Cupid co-founder Christian Rudder was master of dissecting, interrogating and interpreting their data to reach spellbinding conclusions. What’s the best type of photograph to get dates? What shutter speed and exposure will get you noticed? And can someone’s preference for beer determine whether you’re going to get lucky? These are all questions OK Cupid was able to answer from hard data.

Journalists, bloggers and online influencers couldn’t get enough of OK Trends, which is why you’ll still hear so many people express dismay that the blog is no longer operational.


Flurry is a mobile app analytics platform that provides its customers deep insights into app store trends, mobile app usage and detailed predictions on the future of mobile computing. Flurry claims to reach 1 billion mobile users per month, with the ability to gather information from 3.5 billion app sessions daily. That’s a lot of data.

Flurry reports also set the tone for a lot of coverage Recently TechCrunch declared that the age of the paid mobile app is dead, based on Flurry data which show the average price of an iPhone app is just 19 cents. Furthermore, Flurry is able to dive app trends by device and by region, giving abundant ammunition to journalists who cover key technology topics, such as China, South America, mobile gaming, education and entertainment.

By regularly supplying journalists with such juicy data on the state of mobile computing Flurry has become virtually synonymous with mobile analytics, and keeps its name in heavy rotation among top news outlets.


If you use social media for business, you’re probably familiar with link shortener bit.ly, which makes long links fit snuggly into 140-character tweets. While the ability to say more in a tweet is nice, the real power of bit.ly is its ability to gain uniqe insight into what is happening on the social web, and by extension, what matters to people out in the world.

At the 2011 Web 2.0 Summit Bit.ly data scientist Hilary Mason shared the story of how her company watch the events of the Arab Spring unfold in real-time by tracking what content was being shared, and by whom. From small flashes of sharing activity, to a flood, Bit.ly’s real-time data was able to unmask the key online influencers, and tell the story of a social movement in a way that even a journalist could not.

And just this week Bit.ly unveiled its Real-time Media Map, which shows the state and location where content is being viewed and shared for top American publications. Though it might like the gravity of the Arab Spring, it’s a no less impressive technical feat.

And the real lesson is that by giving journalists something that’s easy to cover, it’s easy to fastrack your company’s story in the press. Journalists love nothing more than to talk about themselves. I should know, I was one.


There are many great ways to turn your company data into great news stories. I’ve covered three quick examples. Data gives large groups of your customers and users a voice in aggregate, and provides journalists and writers a new way to see human behavior. And this is what makes data-driven storytelling so powerful.

The data you collect is unique, specialized and timely, which means that it provides a window into the lives of hundreds of thousands or millions of people as events are unfolding. By sharing his data with journalists you’re able to tell a story that no one else knows, and this is exciting and enlightening.

Whether you choose to form charts, infographics, or simply share the results of a user survey, there are many great ways to tell stories with data that will make you stand out from a crowded field, and get the attention your startup deserves.


About Author

Chikodi Chima is a former VentureBeat staff reporter whose consultancy Moonshot helps startups with their public relations and marketing. His writing has appeared in Fast Company, Mashable and GigaOm. Read his blog: PR Tips For Startups.


Why Mobile Security is All About the Data

Mobile malware may dominate headlines, but according to the recent Linkedin Information Security Community survey of 1,600 IT administrators, data loss is a bigger priority in their organizations than malware (75% versus 47%). With 28% of corporate data accessed through mobile devices, it’s no wonder they’re concerned.

Today,62% of workers use their personal smartphones for work. While the majority of these users are not thinking about the security of corporate data, corporate security teams need to be on alert and proactively addressing the risk. As a former CISO, I have faced this problem first hand. I remember the moment when we began to trade user experience for the sake of security. My job became all about saying, “no” which didn’t work then, and increasingly won’t work now, in a world where users can bring their own apps and devices to be more productive. A mobilized workforce means increased flexibility and productivity, but it also means a dramatic shift in the way that organizations handle security.

While most organizations make investments in mobile management, the majority of solutions available today focus on IT asset management and configuration of devices, not on securing data, enterprise access, and the end user. The old model of data protection in a walled garden just doesn’t apply to the ever-changing enterprise where data flows in and out of SaaS services through employee-owned devices. The wave of mobile security threats we see rolling in means that we must begin with a new approach to address both threats and user needs so they won’t need to go around IT controls to do their job.

(Users have shown themselves to be highly effective in circumventing mobile security controls with a quarter of them having done so to get their jobs done, and when given a choice, they will simply not participate in BYOD programs.)

To avoid a user rebellion, we must embrace mobile security that doesn’t sacrifice user experience or enterprise security needs thus allowing users to be productive with the apps and devices they need. And to that end, begin the long and important process of building a data security model that fulfills, and does not conflict with, the spirit of BYOD.

About the Author:

Adam Ely is the Founder and COO of Bluebox. Prior to this role, Adam was the CISO of the Heroku business unit at Salesforce where he was responsible for application security, security operations, compliance, and external security relations. Adam was named one of the top 25 security influencers to follow in 2012 for his industry contributions and is the author of the forthcoming McGraw-Hill book, Information Security Business & Strategy Essentials.  Follow Adam on Twitter @adamely.


Top 5 Data Industries Attendees Want to Know More About at DataWeek 2013

DataWeek Attendee Interest by Industry.  Interactive Visualization.


This week over 4,000 data professionals are gathering in San Francisco for DataWeek 2013.

Sign-ups for Dataweek have been rolling in over the past few months and we wanted to find out what industries in the data universe were of interest to DataWeek attendees.


We partnered up with Algorithms.io to create a chord diagram of the Dataweek attendee professional graph.


We sampled 1,000 Dataweek attendee profiles to create the diagram.  It shows the strength of relationship between different data industry segments.


Here are the Top 5 Data Trends at DataWeek:

  1. Business Intelligence hit our list at number 5 for number of attendees interested in BI.

  2. The Business Software industry is deep  in data and represent a strong 4th place on our list.

  3. Geo/Mobile data barely missed our 2nd spot for 3rd largest data industry hot at DataWeek.

  4. Data Scientists for Business Analytics companies are the 2nd largest data industry of interest at DataWeek.

  5. Taking the #1 Spot, Data experts indicated Big Data as the must-know at DataWeek 2013.


The diagram shows the relationship between different market segments that attendees work in. For example, if someone works in both Big Data and Advertising, then you would see a chord connecting those two.  The thicker the chord, the more shared relationships between those two segments.


An interesting result is what industries “Big Data” is connected to.  Many people self-identify as being a Big Data company, but based on the chords coming from the Big Data segment we getter a better understanding of what industries Big Data companies are actually working in.


This also gives an indication on where the current business revenue opportunities are in Big Data (more companies = more revenue).


About the Author:


Andy Bartley is co-founder and CEO of Algorithms.io. Algorithms.io was developed in 2012 and now provides algorithms as a service for application developers and data scientists to build intelligent applications. Follow Andy on Twitter @algorithms_io.