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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.