One last comment about X Prize - my wife and I are proud that we were the first to contribute to what became known as the Progressive Insurance Automative X Prize - and we loved going to Michigan to see these amazing teams compete with production-ready automobiles built with never before seen efficiencies , over 100 eMPG.
@Kim, I've been very involved with X Prize for about 6 or 7 years now. I've served on the board of directors and have been on the vision circle (as a significant donor). I fell in love with this concept of awarding prizes based on achievable metrics that a competitor meets rather than looking back at a body of work and awarding a prize and money looking backwards, sometimes posthumously.
@Mary, We are already enjoying significant success in the Places ecosystem, providing data or partnering with a whole range of major companies including Yelp, Groupon, Living Social, and so forth. So, we feel like we are already becoming a hub for this type of data.
The very long term vision around having an impact across many more verticals may be a few years out.
@Mitch, What keeps me up at night? There are so many opportunities to leverage big data - data we have or data we could get - to add value in to so many sectors. But, we are still a growing company and so the many question that I think about is whether our focus is just right. I think if we can keep focused and really blow away the industry with our data quality in a few areas (today, it is Places and Products), than it will position us for future success.
"Answer engines" is a sensible term -- when I type "weather" into Google, I don't just get links to weather services, I get a weather report. I've always taken "decision engine" to be a no-content marketing buzzword from Microsoft. Sort of like saying someone is a "custodial engineer" rather than a "janitor."
@Mitch, we've seen on how the big search engines make it easy to query something like "weather san francisco" and see instant information. That trend is continuing. Wolfram Alpha has done a huge amount of work on their platform. Siri (which also uses Wolfram Alpha in the back-end) is a brilliant example. Google Now has been very interesting. Many new great examples from smaller companies as well.
@Mitch - Answer Engines and Decision Engines are terms that have been used by Bing and others to differentiate them from a traditional search engine. The goal isn't just to search for a web page with relevant information, but to provide you immediate answers to help inform a decision.
@Mitch, Continuing on with the customer segments, a 2nd is around the mobile advertising opportunity and we've worked with companies like ThinkNear who are selling new hyperlocal campaigns into brands and ad agencies. Finally, there is the enterprise opportunity - helping large companies clean, enrich or integrate their own data in support of better business intelligence within various functions from marketing to supply chain.
@Mitch, Regarding customers, there are 3 key segments. One are application developers building websites or mobile apps that are primarily building location-aware services. An example would be Booyah's location-based game MyTown.
Google and Factual are very different businesses. Factual is a data and API provider to other businesses whereas Google's main focus in being in front of the consumer. So, while Google has some capabilities to provide data broadly to application developers and enterptise, it doesn't appear to us that this will be their primary focus.
There seems to be a towards what you might call "intelligent search" - search which is informed by user history, and enhanced by machine learning. Would it be fair to see Factual and the new Google Search as very different instances of this?
@Mitch, I agree Google is going down the path toward ansewering more questions rather than just providing links. On one hand there is such a long tail of information that they likely will keep on with their traditional link business for a very long time to come. On the other hand, it is clear that the structured data is taking up increasingly more of the real estate.
Mitch - I hope our deep restaurants database helped you narrow in on lunchtime choices. (Of course, we aren't really a consumer service. Probably better is to use a consumer app that has partnered with us like Yelp, for example.)
It looks to me like you might be colliding with Google at some point. They're trying to expose more answers to queries on their home page, rather than just links to pages where answers can be found. Is that an issue for you?
Regarding privacy, we don't face any significant privacy issues today because we aren't exposing information about individuals. Rather we are tracking businesses, places, products and exposing information that is generally very public - and in a great majority of these cases, these businesses want this information out there. In fact, they often are yearning for a hyper clean source to reduce misinformation on the web.
Regarding something like waybackmachine (which is an amazing service at archive.org)...
Right now our focus is on providing the current freshest data on entities that we track (places, products). We don't currently have time series data on our roadmap. But our general strategy is to map (using our Crosswalk Service) to many other powerful APIs that may have more granular information, for example, Yelp would have a terrific historical database of reviews.
But, providing historical structured data - this is something we should think internally more about. Interested in ideas you'd have.
I see a question about usig solid state storage. We have been testing that and plan to use solid state as key to our infrastructure. That is clearly a huge opportunity given the dramatic price drops, and the significant potential for very fast random access.
You've heard the expression, "Out of the frying pan, into the fire?" Amazon lives in the fire. The e-tailer wins by keeping things hot for its competitors, employees, and itself, according to a new book.
Positec, a manufacturer of power tools for homes and commercial applications, achieves greater customer service flexibility and cuts hold times in half by using a cloud-based service to manage its call center.
Big-data and analytics tools enable marketers to understand customers as individuals, identifying unmet needs and addressing each customer as a "segment of one," says John Kennedy, VP corporate marketing, IBM.
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