A new study of data from massive open online courses offered by Harvard and MIT professors paints a different — and welcome — picture of the state of online education. Completition rates might be low, the authors argue, but that’s a misleading stat. Read more »
Online building materials wholesaler BuildDirect has raised a $27.3 million series B funding round, but it’s not the company’s products or breadth that have investors pumping money into — it’s how smart the company uses data. Read more »
Cloud storage provider Backblaze is at again, this time detailing which models of hard drives last the longest in its open source storage pod arrays. If money were no object, it would probably be Hitachi all the way. Read more »
I analyzed more than 5,000 posts by Gigaom writers in 2013 to identify the words and phrases we use the most. Can you guess what they are? Some of them might surprise you. Read more »
Pivotal’s new SVP of R&D Hugh Williams came on the Structure Show podcast this week to talk about the promise of big data and how he thinks his new employer is poised to deliver on it. But, he notes, there’s still work to do. Read more »
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Dropbox has raised “about $250 million” at a valuation “close to $10 billion.” Given the crazy valuations of other startups, such as Snapchat, such a high number for Dropbox isn’t too surprising. It has hundreds millions of users and has the personnel in place to start adding value beyond just syncing and storing data. Of course, it was just down for a couple days, which is something that can’t happen too frequently if you’re also planning a move into the lucrative business-user market, which Dropbox is.
Google knows a lot about what people listen to because its Play Music service knows what’s in users’ MP3 libraries. A new tool lets people investigate which albums, artists and genres are most popular over time. Read more »
It’s not yet incorporated, but a Las Vegas startup called Skyworks Aerial Systems is trying to make a name for itself in the unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, space. Read more »
EMC-VMware spinoff Pivotal has hired Hugh Williams as its senior vice president of research and development. Williams was most recently a VP at eBay responsible for the technological platforms that underpin the site’s customer experience. Read more »
Cloudera is touting the speed of its Impala query engine compared to Hive and a leading relational database system, but those aren’t really apples-to-apples comparisons. The real question is how all the SQL-on-Hadoop options stack up against one another. Read more »
Jason Hoffman, Joyent co-founder and former CTO, and current VP at Ericsson, shares his thoughts on all things cloud — from why Amazon Web Services is king in IaaS to why data prices for connected cars had better be reasonable. Read more »
AncestryDNA is getting much better at telling users where their ancestors hail from and who their relatives are, but all this improvement comes at a technological cost. The more data it gathers, the more it pushes its infrastructure and algorithms to the limit. Read more »
Facebook’s open source engine for interactive queries on Hadoop is now available as a cloud service thanks to startup Qubole. Facebook claims Presto is 10 times faster than Hive for most queries. Read more »
IBM has launched a whole new division around Watson, but a slow start in terms of uptake might be a sign of concern. Watson’s best chances for success might lie in the cloud, where its capabilities can really be pushed to the limit. Read more »
You can’t talk about data without talking Hadoop. That’s why three CEOs — Rob Bearden of Hortonworks, Tom Reilly of Cloudera and Paul Maritz of Pivotal — will take the stage to talk about where the market it headed and how their companies are helping steer its direction. Read more »
With $15 million from Kleiner Perkins and Jafco Ventures, Zephyr Health thinks it’s well-suited to help pharmaceutical companies and medical device makers navigate tougher financial times by making better use of the data around them. Read more »
API specialist Apigee has acquired a predictive analytics startup called InsightsOne. The companies say the goal is to connect enterprise data and APIs to help predict business outcomes and serve up insights. Read more »
A startup called Lumiata is taking webscale graph analysis like Google and Facebook have perfected and turning it toward personalized health care. As we generate more digital data about research and even personal health, it’s an idea whose time has come. Read more »
This post from the MIT Technology Review discusses how Google used deep learning to recognize houses numbers and make Street View more useful (the research paper it cites is here). It’s just the latest example of applied deep learning from Google, which already uses the technique to power speech recognition on Android phones and image recognition in Google+. And, as we’ve been noting for the past few months, other web companies are now getting on board, applying various forms of machine learning to take advantage of the immeasurable volumes of images and text they’ve accumulated over the years.
The streaming music space is heating up thanks to API services that put incredible amounts of music data in the hands of developers who want to build their own streaming services. Can Pandora’s “less is more” approach survive? Read more »
An Oakland-based startup called Omicia has raised a $6.8 million series A round of venture capital, led by Artis Ventures, for a cloud service that lets doctors analyze whole human genomes in order to identify the presence of diseases. The basic service is free (while more-advanced analyses and capabilities cost $99), and the whole process takes less than 3 hours for a whole genome (or less than 1 hour for an exome). Advances in sequencing, algorithms, data storage and cloud computing have been rapidly driving down the cost of genomic analysis over the past few years, leading to an uptick of of startup activity in the space.
There has been a spate of acquisitions lately targeting companies and founders with expertise in using machine learning to analyze images and text. Although buyers such as Pinterest and Yahoo are usually pretty quiet about their plans, the writing on the wall is clear. Read more »
City of Palo Alto CIO Jonathan Reichental came on the Structure Show podcast this week and talked about the promise of open government data. However, he cautioned, we’re a long way from where we need to be — and end that will require governments to change, too. Read more »
PayPal is shaping up to be one of the biggest OpenStack users around, using it to manage a private cloud spanning a few thousand servers. Can its work on the platform help fill gaps that currently scare other enterprise users away? Read more »
Two new platforms for storing and analyzing genomic data have raised venture capital recently, with Curoverse announcing $1.5 million in seed funding in mid-December and Tute Genomics announcing $1.5 million in seed funding on Dec. 31. Curoverse is a specialized private-cloud system, while Tute Genomics is a pure cloud service. Both are riding the waves of cheaper gene-sequencing costs, data storage and computing power, assuming it will result in a deluge of demand for genomic analysis over the next few years. They’re not alone: We’ve covered numerous startups trying to do the same thing, including DNAnexus, Bina Technologies, Spiral Genetics and Appistry.
Violin Memory Chief Operating Officer Dixon Doll, Jr., resigned just weeks after the resignation of CTO Jonathan Goldrick and termination of CEO Don Basile. The company hopes new leadership can get it back on track. Read more »
The legal profession has undergone a lot of unpleasant changes since the Great Recession struck in 2008. New data-analysis technologies and a new approach to thinking about data could help firms operate leaner, meaner and better. Read more »
People Pattern, an Austin, Texas-based startup focused on targeted marketing, has raised a $4.5 million series A round of venture capital from Mohr Davidow and a collection of private investors. It’s hardly the first company to think about applying new big data and data science techniques in the name of better understanding customers — that’s arguably the most popular use for these techniques — but People Pattern’s approach is noteworthy. It lets users mine both their internal data stores (e.g., Salesforce.com) and external sources (e.g., social media) to predict the highest-value users and the best ways to target them.
This article in IEEE Spectrum highlights some interesting research into making cloud computing more efficient by balancing the carbon footprints of global data centers and the latency of serving requests from those data centers. It’s an admittedly incomplete study, and one that’s probably more important to large web companies (e.g., Facebook) and cloud providers than to normal businesses just consuming cloud resources. Smarter load balancing could help providers cut operational costs and pass the savings onto users. Of course, large cloud users such as Netflix might want to research and develop their own systems, as well.
Researchers from the National University of Singapore and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia have developed a new method of storing data on magnetoresistive random attached memory, or MRAM, chips that they claim can store data for at least 20 years. Some believe MRAM has promise in future consumer devices and in embedded systems because it’s faster, denser and longer-lasting than traditional DRAM and flash memory. However, it’s not exactly clear how revolutionary the researchers’ work is: An Arizona-based company called Everspin already produces MRAM technology it claims can last more than 20 years.
Calxeda’s restructuring was a blow to the ARM-processor-based server market, but hardly a fatal one. While Calxeda started its life trying to build systems using 32-bit chips, there’s a whole new market shaping up around 64-bit versions set to debut in 2014. Read more »
The holidays are coming, but it was still a fairly busy week in the IT world. Barb Darrow and Derrick Harris break down all the news on this week’s Structure Show. Read more »
Google’s Transparency Reports get a lot of attention for their data on government action, but less so for their insights into copyright takedown requests. I analyzed nearly 1 million takedown requests to find out who’s getting the most URLs removed. Read more »
IDC has released its forecast for the big data market and predicts it will grow to $32.4 billion by 2017, at a compound annual growth rate of 27 percent. The fastest-growing segment will be cloud infrastructure, which IDC predicts will grow at 49 percent per year. Last year, IDC predicted a $23.8 billion market by 2016 at a CAGR of 31.7 percent. It also predicted the storage would be the fastest-growing segment at 53.4 percent. The research firm acknowledges the changes and attributes them (and other changes in methodology) to fluidity in a new, fast-moving market — a fair point and a smart decision if the company wants its forecast to remain relevant.
IBM is acquiring Aspera, a specialist in sending big files over the internet . The company’s technology is used by everyone from movie studios to genetic researchers, and it recently launched a Dropbox-for-business-style synchronization service. Read more »
Datameer, one of the first companies to offer software for easily analyzing data stored in Hadoop (it lets users use a spreadsheet interface to work with data), has raised a $19 million series D round of venture capital. Next World Capital led the round, which also included its existing investors and Workday, Citi Ventures and Software AG. Datameer has proven pretty resilient even as other early Hadoop-ecosystem startups have suffered, in part I assume because it been proactive on product design — it was quick to adopt HTML5 and add advanced visualization options — and getting the product in potential users’ hands via single-node and laptop versions of the product.
For banking startup LendUp, personalization is a matter of survival. As a lender to the underbanked that doesn’t charge late fees, LendUp needs to get the right data and design the right experience to ensure it gets paid. Read more »
Cloud-based application performance and security specialist CloudFlare finally announced on Tuesday that it closed a $50 million funding round in December 2012, but the real story is about the company’s rapid growth and how it’s rethinking its infrastructure to support all that traffic. Read more »
While much of the talk around data the past few years has been about how much we can store and what we can learn from it, the future — and this year’s Structure Data conference — is about what we can do with data. Read more »
The service, announced in November as a tool for customers who want to process data in a timely fashion, gives Amazon a rival to Apache Storm. Read more »