Former Bit.ly data scientist Hilary Mason starts own research consulting lab

Structure Data 2011: Jason Hoffman – Founder and Chief Scientist, Joyent; Terry Jones – CEO and Founder, Fluidinfo; Hilary Mason – Chief Scientist, bit.ly; Bill McColl – Founder and CEO, Cloudscale; Bassel Ojjeh – President and CEO, nPario

Data science expert Hilary Mason today launched Fast Forward Labs, an independent data technology research lab that is essentially a consulting service to organizations interested in learning how the latest advancements in big data can help them.

For Mason, while there are plenty of interesting things happening in tech these days, a lot of current research has been fragmented in various communities that may not interact with each other, such as the hacker communities and academia. Fast Forward Labs will supposedly be the missing link that can unify these disparate forms of research for companies that may have heard about a particular new trend or development, but don’t have the expertise needed to actually gain something from them.

Customers of the New York-based Fast Forward Labs will be able to sign up to receive customized research reports on areas of emerging technology — delivered every one to three months — that the four-person research team at Fast Forward Labs deem worthy of attention and could be applicable to a company’s business objectives.

For example, the startup’s first research project tackles natural language generation algorithms, a technology that the enterprise really hasn’t tapped into, Mason said. While natural language generation algorithms have been explored in academic papers, she said that their use in the mainstream has really only involved companies that have been using them to generate automated news articles.

“The report subscription is a mechanism to make [clients] aware of the stuff we know,” Mason said. “They can use the research subscription as a mechanism to find the really great business and market opportunities that might go unrecognized.”

Mason is no stranger to the world of data analytics, having spent roughly four years as a chief scientist and scientist emeritus at Bit.ly, which she left last summer to become the first data scientist in residence at venture capital firm Accel Partners. She will still be working with Accel on mentoring and advising companies within the fund’s portfolio, but she said that will be strictly a part-time commitment.

Here’s a clip of Mason at this year’s Structure Data conference where she joined a panel of speakers and discussed trends in big data that cause investors to take notice.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BP6y2wFrt4&w=560&h=315]

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