All posts in “Data” introduces enterprise data collaboration platform

Imagine a tool that’s a kind of Facebook for data inside large organizations. You could build data projects and teams, upload and share data sets, then discuss your raw data and findings with colleagues in a community setting. That’s precisely what, an Austin startup, released today.

Data is the lifeblood of most modern organizations and has tried to build a tool that combines data with a social network. It provides a place where a community of users with varying levels of ability and understanding can work together on data sets and models.

“What we set out to solve is that we are living in networked age, but data is a highly disconnected thing. A lot of data in the world is sitting inside silos and is hard to understand when you do find it,” Brett Hurt, CEO and co-founder at told TechCrunch. Hurt and his co-founders saw data that was disconnected from tool chains, and they believed that was contributing to a massive loss in productivity.

The company built originally as an open community, but also saw a need for private communities inside large organizations where data scientists and data analysts were often separated from one another.”We felt this was the right time to launch the enterprise offering. We’ve built the best collaborative data features to allow [users] to work in a social fashion and bring the power of people to data,” he explained.

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They created the enterprise product to connect the people inside an organization who were interested in data and needed a way to collaborate around it using common tools that data geeks use. To that end,’s enterprise edition connects with Tableau, Microsoft Excel and Power BI, IBM SPSS, MicroStrategy, Google Data Studio, as well as R and Python and even IFTTT.

Among the customers using the enterprise platform is AP, the news syndicate, which has been using to share data with its various newsroom member organizations to help reporters use data more effectively to enhance their articles.

The company also announced that former Chief Data Scientist for the US government in the Obama administration, DJ Patil, would be joining the company’s Board of Advisors. launched in 2015 and has raised almost $33 million across two rounds. Its most round was an $18.7 million Series B in 2017.

Featured Image: Aping Vision / STS/Getty Images

Pulse Q&A wants to transform the way we gather data from CIOs

Lots of companies need to understand what CIOs are thinking, but it’s hard to get a group of busy people to give meaningful answers about the products they use or their budget priorities in public forums for obvious reasons. Pulse Q&A is a new company in the Y Combinator Winter 2018 class that wants to change how we gather and share this valuable information.

“Imagine you had a chatbot where you could ask CIOs for exact information and crowdsource the [answers],” says Pulse co-founder and CEO Mayank Mehta. That’s exactly what Pulse Q&A hopes to provide. It has already attracted over 2000 CIOs to its Facebook Messenger chat tool and the one it runs on its website.

The idea for the company has its roots in a problem that the founders encountered in earlier startups. They needed to talk to hundreds of CIOs to find the right product-market fit, a process that took months to complete. The the idea of a crowd-sourced platform where they could ask questions in a centralized fashion to speed up that process began to take shape.

It launched the company last year and has built up a stable of CIOs through word of mouth, email marketing, Facebook ads and LinkedIn. Mehta says they don’t offer financial rewards to get people to answer questions, but instead give them points for participating, which they can exchange for information by asking their own questions.

Photo: Pulse Q&A

Mike Kail, who is CTO and co-founder at Cybric, a security as a service startup, who had previous executive stints at Netflix and Yahoo, said he had known Mehta and liked the idea of a private network where IT executives could discuss issues outside of a public forum. Kail said he gave up on LinkedIn groups, which he says are is not a place where you can be candid or transparent.

But he says there is a need for a place where executives can compare notes online. “I want to talk to peers who are facing the same problems I am and their platform gives me that,” Kail told TechCrunch

Pulse Q&A has a broad range of paying market targets for the product including CFOs and CEOs who want to understand CIO benchmarks, CMOs who want to tune their messaging to the needs of CIOs, Hedge funds managers looking to validate investment decisions and journalists looking for data on the business impact of the technology they are writing about.

While the company is still working on pricing models, it doesn’t come cheap, starting at $2500 for a hundred responses to five questions, Mehta said. They currently have two dozen paying customers.

Pulse Q&A web report. Photo: Pulse Q&A

The founders have found being part of Y Combinator to be an invaluable experience. “We are getting emotional support of being an early stage startup from other portfolio companies and partners and support from Y Combinator community,” Mehta said.

As for the future, the company hopes to expand beyond the two current channels of Facebook Messenger and its web client to Skype for Business and Slack and to continue to build out the CIO network and the product, making it easier to ask questions and get specific answers and filtered reports.

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Be the Excel master you’ve always wanted to be with this bundle

Learn how to excel at Excel.
Learn how to excel at Excel.

Image: Pexels

Not all computer wizards build code. There are some who crunch tons of data using spreadsheets. In virtually every industry, understanding data is imperative to making business decisions. But before you can mine your data for insights, first you’ll need to sort it.

If you’ve always wanted to be an Excel master, the Ultimate Excel Bootcamp Bundle will take you from casual user to spreadsheet ninja during some 70 hours of instruction.

This in-depth training includes four courses that are fit for business-minded newbies and pros alike. It provides lifetime access to extensive video tutorials and by the end of the training you’ll come out with the ability to work smarter and take advantage of the software’s many functions and features. 

Here are the classes included in the bundle:

Microsoft Excel Basics

The Bootcamp kicks off with a 32-hour deep dive into all things Excel. You’ll discover the most popular formulas, learn how to create enviable graphs and charts, and understand the ABCs of formatting.

Business Analysis

Next, you’ll jump right into learning how to crunch numbers like a pro. In this course, you’ll be taught how to turn buckets of data into sound business decisions, transforming you into the data analytics superstar you’re destined to be.


Then, you’ll be introduced to arguably Excel’s most powerful features — PivotTables. This course will teach you how to identify good and bad data sets, and filter, sort, and group PivotTable data to make the most out of its usefulness. It also covers lessons on how to present your data clearly using PivotCharts and conditional formatting.

Advanced Excel

And finally, you’ll undergo an advanced course on Excel, exploring new areas and functions. Soon after, you’ll be able to solve the most complex problems and clinch that coveted “Excel wizard” title.

Collectively, these courses are worth $1,380, but you can grab the entire set now for only $49 — a savings of 96%.

Firefly is an iPhone case that promises to improve your cellular data or Wi-Fi connection

Hey, iPhone users: It’s 2018, Season 4 of Black Mirror just dropped, and Vine is making a comeback. What does this mean? That you don’t have the time to wait around for stuff to load due to crappy service or a bad Wi-Fi connection, that’s what.

All millennial impatience jokes aside, patchy cellular or crappy Wi-Fi is seriously inconvenient. Who wants to be worrying about missing or dropping a call and feeling the wrath of a boss, potential employer, or worse: a worried mom?

A Kickstarter project wants to help make sure that you’re never in a “Sorry, I didn’t have service” situation — and that you have a reliable connection to memes and Netflix (phew). Meet Firefly, a phone case with a built-in super antenna.

Firefly looks like an ordinary protective smartphone case, and it is — according to the Kickstarter page, the shell is completely shock absorbent and can prevent a cracked screen from a drop as high as 12 feet. Plus, the luminescent frame glows in the dark.

Image: firefly

However, this case does much more than provide insurance for your clumsiness: its patented Super Antenna technology aims to strengthen cellular data, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connection, making for faster loading (and a decreased urge to throw your phone out the window). The idea is that you’ll be able to enjoy increased signal strength, coverage area, and frequency bandwidth — AKA less dropped calls, faster streaming, and non-pixelated FaceTime calls, even in areas that usually cause loading timeouts. And when your phone isn’t constantly searching for service, your battery will be left un-drained.

The science behind Firefly? According to the Kickstarter campaign page, the case captures your iPhone’s energy and re-radiates it with the best possible coverage pattern. Because the antennas already inside your phone are narrowband, they only cover a specific frequency, and when an external antenna is stacked on (like Antennagate for iPhone 4) frequency is shifted and connection is actually slowed down more. Since Firefly is a broadband and frequency diverse case, those detuning issues apparently aren’t a problem.

Check out the Kickstarter video:

Firefly is available for the iPhone 6/6S, 6S Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, and the iPhone X, with prices starting at just $29.00. Plus, shipping starts in April — just in time for those summer adventures to those no-service destinations. Back the project while there’s still time here.

Facebook has a giant, Europe-sized legal problem

Europe continues to be a giant pain in Facebook’s app. 

Germany and France this week both hammered Facebook for its data practices, though in different ways. 

Germany’s competition regulator declared on Monday that Facebook is using its dominance in the personal data market to squelch competition and took issue with Facebook’s tracking of users outside of its social network.

On Tuesday, France’s privacy regulator took issue with an entirely different part of Facebook — messaging service WhatsApp. France threatened to fine Facebook for taking user data from WhatsApp without user consent.

The two sanctions follow a steady drumbeat from the European Union and individual countries in Europe promising to regulate data-rich tech companies — something almost entirely missing from the U.S. 

Facebook declined to make any representatives available for comment.

Europe has for years been more aggressive in regulating tech companies, Facebook and Google in particular. The biggest move came in April 2016 when the EU adopted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), though it won’t go into action until May 2018. 

The GDPR represents that most aggressive action yet by a government to try to rein in the immense power of Google and Facebook. It sets rules on how personal data can be collected, stored, and used. It also puts into place certain rights that will make sure people can control their data and know exactly what data is being collected. 

And the new rules give the EU the ability to slap companies with massive fines if they don’t comply.

This isn’t great for Facebook, which has grown into a global megapower by offering its services for free so that it can collect user data, which is then used for hyper-targeted advertising. The social network tracks users just about anywhere on the internet thanks to its near-ubiquitous Like button. That data dominance has helped Facebook make billions upon billions of dollars.

Europe’s willingness to go after what is essentially Facebook’s business model isn’t something the social network is taking lightly, according to Jason Kint, CEO of digital trade association Digital Content Next.

“I think Facebook is absolutely taking it very seriously, and so is Google,” Kint said. “Their interests and anybody that is in the third-party data collection business is paying a lot of attention to Europe.”

They’re less concerned about the U.S., where regulation has been headed in a different direction. Kint noted that U.S. antitrust regulators — the people who make sure companies are operating fairly — are focused on consumer pricing rather than competition. 

That means while Germany sees Facebook’s data dominance as being anti-competitive, the notion that Facebook is still free means the social network mostly gets a pass — though that could change.

“The discussion is starting in the U.S. too, we’re just not as far along in the analysis ,and the competition law here in the U.S. hasn’t bene updated and doesn’t treat it the same way as Europe,” Kint said.

Don’t expect stateside changes anytime soon, if at all. There’s still a strong contingent of academics, analysts, and politicians in the U.S. that don’t see antitrust as the right way to regulate Facebook.  

In an interview with Wired, New America fellow and former White House tech policy advisor under Barack Obama Dipayan Ghosh said antitrust would not be effective in regulating the data operations of tech companies.

“[Antitrust] doesn’t seem to be the right manner of regulation, given the intricacies involved in delivering innovations over the internet,” he says. “In fact, it almost seems arbitrary.” 

Even if the U.S. doesn’t change its ways, Europe could be a big enough problem for Facebook and other tech giants that they’ll have to make broad changes to how the collect, handle, and use personal data. 

Depending on what that means for consumers, Americans might have a lot of thank EU letters to write.

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