Leada pivots its data science training program from academics to the enterprise


Weeks before he got on stage in front of investors at a Y Combinator demo day, entrepreneur Brian Liou made a massive change in his company. Leada originally set its sights on helping students apply their data science knowledge to real-world examples, but in a pivot, it switched to providing enterprise training for employees.

“We believe data science is a fundamental skill for everyone,” Liou told VentureBeat in July. While this was a noble thought, it didn’t work with Leada’s initial vision of targeting the academic space, and the market wasn’t responding to it.

Liou explained that the major obstacle the company encountered was the sales cycle: Trying to schedule meetings with university professors during the summer was practically impossible because they’re “either on vacation or in heavy research mode.” He admitted that the metrics Leada had expected from universities didn’t materialize.

At the same time, Liou’s team had been exploring the enterprise market — it already had Zenefits on board. So Leada opted to pivot towards what it hoped would be greener pastures. That’s where it remains today, offering its services to anyone in the workplace who wants to be data literate. “The data team is still a bottleneck, and we’re trying to solve the problem by providing training to those that interface with these teams, like product managers,” Liou said.

Leada provides a customized data-training program for any employee related to their experience. The training starts with understanding BI tools, before going to SQL and then Python. Each online course takes 15 to 20 hours to complete. A Leada instructor is available to meet with students, provide code reviews, make sure that they’re keeping up with projects, and answer questions.

The training costs around $8,000 to $10,000 a year, with courses taking approximately a week to set up. Leada works with customer companies to obtain data sets and tables from projects they want to use as examples. It does receive proprietary data from its customers, but Leada signs a nondisclosure agreement that prohibits it from sharing it with anyone else.

“Eventually we want to provide a data training program that helps employees at any level become more data driven,” Liou concluded. “Companies like Airbnb have invested tons of resources in a data school to get their employees trained in their data, and we want to enable every company to have a program like this.”

The customers Leada is working with skew toward technology, such as Twitch, Zenefits, and Lenda. However, Liou wants to expand outside of tech to other sectors like finance, health care, media, and retail. The company has raised $200,000 in funding from Y Combinator and the Imagine K-12 accelerator.

Apple files to vacate order, says ‘the Constitution forbids’ what FBI seeks

An Apple iPhone 5c. This is the same model of iPhone the FBI has seized that previously belonged to San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook.

Apple today filed a motion to vacate U.S. Justice Department attorneys’ order to compel the tech company to help the FBI unlock the iPhone 5c that belonged to San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook.

The attorneys filed the 35-page motion in the U.S. District Court’s Central District of California on February 19. Now, less than 24 hours after Apple chief executive Tim Cook made public comments on television on how the demand for Apple to break the iPhone’s encryption would be “bad for America,” the company has submitted its legal response.

Today’s 47-page filing hits on many of the points Cook said on TV and wrote in his letter to customers last week, including that this case affects public safety and isn’t only about national security vs. privacy, that the desired software could be used on multiple phones, not just Farook’s iPhone, and that the government has “cut off debate” by beginning this battle “behind closed doors” instead of in Congress. But the filing begins very strongly by saying that “the Constitutions forbids” what the government is asking for.

In fact fulfilling what the government desires would “require Apple to create full-time positions in a new ‘hacking’ department,” the company says. Rather than use the “FBiOS” shortcut that has arisen in recent days Apple used instead what the government wants “GovtOS.”

In saying what the government wants is not legal, Apple is specifically citing the First and Fifth amendments in its motion to vacate.

Our timeline of the case is here.

Harrison Weber contributed to this report.


Barriers To Augmented Reality Are Holding Us Back From The Holodeck

holodeck There is more money and talent invested in virtual and augmented reality than ever before. Indeed, more than $3.5 billion has been invested into virtual and augmented reality startups in the past two years. The industry is growing fast; Goldman Sachs suggests the combined hardware and software market for VR and AR will reach, on a base case, $80 billion by 2025, with a potential to reach more… Read More

Meet Brain, The AI Engine That Wants To Replace Search

logo Fifteen miles away from where Larry Page and Sergey Brin worked out of their first office developing the technology that would become Google, a team of eleven engineers no older than 20 are hard at work on developing what they hope will be its replacement. Their adoptive home, for the moment, is the co-working space Tim Draper set up as part of his Draper University startup program,… Read More

GrubHub CMO to share secrets of building the perfect feedback loop at Mobile Summit 2016

Cavallo Point

When she joined GrubHub as chief marketing officer nine months ago, Barbara Martin Coppola realized that building loyalty through mobile phones was one of the company’s most important mandates.

The vast majority of customers who use the $1.88 billion-valued food-ordering company — 90 percent of them — are repeat visitors. And the majority of orders — 60 percent — are made on mobile.

GrubHub CMO Barbara Martin Coppola

Above: GrubHub CMO Barbara Martin Coppola

Coppola has since gone to work figuring out how to maintain loyalty through the tiny real estate of the mobile phone, which turns out to be a very difficult thing to do.

We’re delighted to have Coppola join us as a speaker at the Mobile Summit on April 4-5 to talk about how she’s building what she calls an instantaneous feedback loop on mobile.

That loops starts with immediate communication with the customer at the moment of placing the order and continues through updates about when the food is arriving to requests for feedback after it was delivered. (Did it come on time? Was the customer happy?) The company has built a significant database from these interactions, which GrubHub is mining to ensure the design experience continues to improve, becoming more predictive of customers’ needs and preferences and more enjoyable for the customer.

Coppola will talk about how important food is to customers and why GrubHub pushes its mobile experience to inspire diners through rich visuals and social sharing.

An engineer by training, Coppola worked for Google for seven years before joining GrubHub.

Other speakers at Mobile Summit include leading executives from Google, LinkedIn, Pandora, Tinder, Touch of Modern, Freshdesk, and more. The event will take place at the scenic Cavallo Point Lodge in Sausalito, California.

We invite only 180 executives to the Summit (you can apply to attend here). The event is designed to be an intimate experience where executives exchange strategies around some of the hottest trends in mobile traction. The goal is to make the Summit the best insider event possible by keeping it free of pressures from vendors or platform owners. Instead, we invite leading brands and independent app owners to participate, with a careful eye to creating the best mix possible. Working sessions go into depth on important topics, and cocktail receptions make sure the networking juices flow.

Topics include the following:

  • User acquisition
  • Designing the user experience
  • Messaging and video
  • Mobile marketing automation
  • Targeting your marketing
  • How to build your mobile marketing team
  • How to orient your entire organization around mobile
  • M-commerce and online-offline convergence
  • Nurturing existing users
  • Harnessing data for mobile engagement
  • Mobile advertising attribution
  • Predicting and measuring

Call for sponsors

If you’d like to become a sponsor, please send a message to [email protected].

Niantic raises $5 million to forge ahead with Pokémon Go

Pokemon Go screenshot.

Niantic, the former Google division that is working on a Pokémon Go location-based mobile game, has raised $5 million in an expanded seed funding round.

The new investors include Alsop Louie, former Havas boss David Jones (and his new venture You and Mr Jones), Fuji Television, Lucas Nealan, and Cyan and Scott Banister. The deal shows that Niantic is still a hot property, and its task of bringing the Pokémon brand to mobile devices is no small task.

San Francisco-based Niantic makes “real-world games,” or mobile titles that mix virtual gameplay with locations in the real world. Niantic has teamed up with Nintendo and the Pokémon Company to create Pokémon Go, where you can hunt for classic animated characters in real-world locations using your phone or a new device from Nintendo dubbed the Pokémon Go Plus.

Back in October, Niantic spun out of Google after the success of its Ingress massively multiplayer online game on Android and iOS. It raised $30 million from Google, Nintendo, and the Pokémon Company.

Niantic chief marketing officer Mike Quigley and CEO John Hanke (right) at Niantic headquarters.

Above: Niantic chief marketing officer Mike Quigley and CEO John Hanke (right) at Niantic headquarters.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

John Hanke, chief executive of Niantic, said in an interview with GamesBeat that each new investor brings something strategic to the company. The news coincidentally is happening close to the 20th anniversary of Pokémon’s launch, but Hanke said that was not deliberate.

“We carved out $5 million from our Series A round to let others come in,” Hanke said. “It is prudent to raise a little extra money and bring in strategic people.”

Louie, who founded the pioneering game company Spectrum Holobyte and was an investor in Hanke’s previous startup, Keyhole (later turned into Google Earth), is joining Niantic’s board of directors. Jones previously worked with some of the biggest brands in the world while at Havas, and that’s something Niantic will need in the future as it creates more branded games on top of its location-based game engine. Fuji TV gives Niantic another foothold in Japan, and Hanke said it will be evident later why the Japanese company is getting involved. The Banister and Nealan will bring tech industry connections.

Niantic has a few dozen employees, and it is expanding.

As for Pokémon Go, Hanke said, “Pokémon Go is looking good. We’ll share more details with the world soon. There certainly are a lot of fans.”

Check out the video below to see why Pokémon fans are excited about Niantic’s game.

Pro-ISIS Hacker Group Video Threatens Twitter, Facebook CEOs Over Account Suspensions

Isis video Twitter and Facebook have recently claimed to be stepping up their fights against extremist content being hosted on their platforms. Indeed, there is some evidence that certain tactics to counter extremists’ appropriation of mainstream social media platforms — such as Twitter deploying repeat account suspensions — is having an impact on the spread of extremist propaganda. Read More

Opera CEO: Sale To Chinese Consortium Wasn’t Our Decision

opera-new-logo-brand-identity-portal-to-web-1024x644 After months of rumor, Opera finally confirmed two weeks ago that its board had accepted a takeover offer from a consortium of Chinese firms for the price of $1.2 billion. I had a chance to sit down this week at MWC with Lars Boilesen, the CEO of Opera, and Håkon Wium Lie, the company’s CTO and inventor of cascading style sheets (CSS). In this wide-ranging and candid interview, we… Read More