Bit.ly’s Hilary Mason joins Accel Partners as data scientist in residence

Terry Jones of Fluidinfo, Hilary Mason of bit.ly, Bill McColl of Cloudscale, and Bassel Ojjeh nPario at Structure Big Data 2011

Hilary Mason, the former chief scientist at Bit.ly and one of the few household names in data science (if there is such a thing), has joined venture capital firm Accel Partners as its first data scientist in residence.

Jake Flomenberg, a big data-focused investor at Accel, said in a phone call on Monday that Mason’s responsibilities will be akin to those of the more-traditional entrepreneur position: help entrepreneurs, investigate new technologies and figure out what she wants to do next. The big difference, of course, is that Mason will focus her efforts around how companies are building data technologies and taking advantage of the data they’re generating.

Bringing Mason on as a data scientist in residence is a way to continue Accel’s relationship with her as she scales back her day-to-day duties at Bit.ly. Mason is relinquishing her chief scientist role for a “scientist emeritus” role, she noted in an email, which means she be “involved strategically.”

According to one report, Mason had been splitting leadership duties with Bit.ly VP of Engineering Peter Miron since CEO Peter Stern stepped down in March.

Mason has been an adviser to Accel’s Big Data Fund since 2011, and has offered up some insightful analysis on how to think about the connections between infrastructure-level technologies and data-driven applications, Flomenberg said. “She’s one of the few people in the world who has the right profile and skill set to take on one of these roles,” he said.

Terry Jones of Fluidinfo, Hilary Mason of bit.ly, Bill McColl of Cloudscale, and Bassel Ojjeh nPario at Structure Big Data 2011

Hilary Mason (right) at Structure: Data 2011. (c) 2012 Pinar Ozger pinar@pinarozger.com

Other data scientists in residence at VC firms include DJ Patil at Greylock Partners and Drew Conway at IA Ventures.

“I’m only taking this step because I’m confident in bitly’s future, with a new CEO coming on board and new products around social intelligence already out with charter customers,” Mason wrote.

“… That said, it’s been almost four years at bitly and it’s time for me to play with some new ideas. I’m looking forward to working with Accel on a part-time basis and taking the next few months to explore what those might look like.”

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