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In Brief

Hadapt, a startup that has been pushing SQL on Hadoop since 2011, is rolling out a new technology it calls “schema-less SQL.” Essentially, the SQL portion of Hadapt’s platform will automatically form columns from the keys of JSON and other data types, thus making the associated values queryable like values in a standard relational database. This sort of joint SQL-NoSQL support is likely to become a lot more normal for analytic databases. Curt Monash has a good technical breakdown of the new Hadapt feature.

In Brief

The Comparing Constitutions Project has launched new web tool called Constitute, which lets users search their way through the world’s constitutions by keyword or theme. Not only is the tool handy for gathering info on international laws, but it’s also indicative of how the web can ease access to valuable data via nice interfaces masking lots of complicated data-prep work. The organization’s website has lots of other constitutional data and visualizations, too.

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In Brief

Recommind, a San Francisco-based company that sells machine learning software optimized for e-discovery in the legal industry, has raised $15 million from SAP Ventures. The new money will go toward growing the company’s footprint outside the legal space via enterprise software that lets humans and machines work closely with one another around data analysis — something Recommind CTO Jan Puzicha discussed with me in March at Structure: Data.

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In Brief

DataSift, one of the two companies (along with Gnip) granted real-time access to the Twitter firehose, now offers real-time and historical analysis of Tumblr data. While it’s best-known for Twitter, DataSift actually analyzes dozens of social media and commenting platforms, which is pretty handy if you want to compare sentiment, engagement or whatever else across platforms where people behave quite differently.

In Brief

An MIT professor has conducted some handy research that could help make applications run faster and use less energy by overcoming an inherent drawback of multicore processors. The problem is that although the local caches on chips save them the latency of having to access RAM, the hardware-wired algorithms powering them often assign data to cache locations randomly without considering the core trying to access it. The new software-based technique, called Jigsaw, tracks which cores are accessing what data — and how much — and assigns data locale accordingly. The paper detailing Jigsaw is available here.

In Brief

New research out of Carnegie Mellon University shows that analyzing fans’ tweets can help gamblers make better bets on NFL games. Sometimes. Their technique wasn’t very effective at picking winners or betting the over/under, but it was 55 percent accurate on bets against the spread (and then only during the middle of the season). I doubt anyone will undertake this effort themselves for such a slight edge, but there might be a business here if someone can figure out a consistently accurate model.

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Couchbase is officially opening up two new technologies to mobile developers as part of a public beta program. Couchbase Lite is a lightweight database designed specifically for iOS and Android devices, while Cloud Sync Gateway syncs local data with a bigger database in the cloud. Read more »

On The Web

Yup. Makes me wonder if the tech companies that have been lobbying for Patriot Act reform over the past few years were doing so in part to get out from under the NSA’s thumb. Policy discussions were always couched in geopolitical language, but they must have foreseen the backlash even from U.S. customers if word ever got out about what was up.

Dallas-based enterprise-search company PureDiscovery has closed a $10 million series C funding round that should help it brings its BrainSpace platform to the masses. The idea is one to build knowledge about the content of documents rather than just an index of what’s where. Read more »

In Brief

A San Mateo, Calif.-based startup called Space-Time Insight has raised a $20 million series C investment round led by London-based firm Zouk Capital. Space-Time provides a platform for analyzing and visualizing streaming data, and is gaining traction in the utility sector. We profiled the company in 2011, specifically its work with California ISO to put real-time energy data on an 80-foot screen in the agency’s control room. Space-Time closed a $14 million series B investment round last September.

In Brief

Narrative Science, a startup that turns complex text documents into reports or articles that are supposed to resemble something written by a human being, has raised an $11.5 million series C funding round. News organizations have already used the company’s software to turn sports stats or corporate earnings statements into articles, but it has potential anywhere someone is trying to analyze loads of text documents. CIA-backed venture capital firm In-Q-Tel invested in Narrative Science in June.

In Brief

Hortonworks is making progress on its mission (via a project called Stinger) to speed up SQL-like queries in Hadoop using Apache Hive. New features in the latest version of Hortonworks’ Hadoop distribution have improved Hive performance tens of times in some instances, and the company is aiming for 100x improvements soon. Hortonworks has also added support for new types of SQL data. Competitor Cloudera opted to forgo Hive in favor of its own Impala technology for interactive queries.

In Brief

eBay has acquired Seattle-based price-prediction startup Decide.com, and the service will shut down on Sept. 30. The entire team will head over to eBay to help the e-commerce giant improve its experience through predictive modeling. The entire team except Co-founder and CTO Oren Etzioni, that is: the University of Washington computer science professor, Madrona Venture Group partner and former Farecast founder is heading up Paul Allen’s new Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence.

Oren Etzioni

Oren Etzioni

On The Web

This post from Slate is spot on, in my humble opinion. It might be overkill, but I can say the same about my own posting habits, and did last year. (I can’t say the same about my wife, though …) There are plenty of reasons to not want a digital profile you didn’t ask for, and advances in behavioral analysis and facial recognition are only making them worse.

In Brief

SwiftKey, a London-based startup that sells a popular “smart” keyboard for Android devices, has closed a $17.5 million series B led by Index Ventures. The company plans to spend the money on research to “fuel further innovation in the fields of Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning,” among other things, according to a press release. That’s probably not a bad idea given Google’s vested interest keyboard dominance and focus on cutting-edge text analysis.

In Brief

Former VMware CTO Steve Herrod joined General Catalyst Partners in January, and his first investment as a venture capitalist is a big one — $25 million in cloud backup service Datto. DealBook has a good writeup of Datto’s story, but the other angle is what the deal says about Herrod’s investment strategy and about GCP’s push into enterprise software.

On The Web

A provocative — and thoroughly researched — post from IEEE Spectrum about the shortage of workers with science, technology, engineering and math skills. I’m not skeptical enough to think it’s all manufactured concern so employers can keep salaries low, but I’ve read enough about the push for more immigrant visas for tech workers to know there’s something there.

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