Sep 12, 2013

How casinos are betting on big data

Reported from Yahoo! Finance today, casinos like Caesars crunch big data to find ways to attract gamblers. They can find out if a gambler is losing  or winning too much:  
"They could win a lot or they lose a lot or they could have something in the middle. … So we do try to make sure that people don't have really unfortunate visits," said Caesars CEO Gary Loveman. 

Caesars has been leading data mining in gambling industry. They have more than 200 data experts (including some real data scientists?) in house to crunch data on royalty program, VIP member patterns, and so on.  That work was reported in KDD 2011 Industry prattice expo.

Next time when you visit a casino, expect a suddenly friendlier slot machine after you are on a losing streak ...

The complete Yahoo! Finance report is here

Sep 4, 2013

Machine learning as a service

With data widely available and maturity of machine learning methods, commercial application of machine learning has become a reality. A new type of businesses has sprung up: Providing machine learning services.  It turns out this service fills a big market void. About a dozen companies have rapidly grown in this space in the last few years. Even so, many more startups are formed this year.

Let me take a look at a few successful companies in this space:

1. Mu Sigma
The company derives its name from “mu” and “sigma” in statistics. Based in Chicago but with significant operation in India, Mu Sigma provides analytics for marketing, supply chain and risk management. The company was founded in 2004, but has grown to 2,500 employees. Today, the company is valued at 1 billion.
2. Opera Solutions
Opera solutions was founded in 2004, headerquartered in New York but with significant operation in San Diego. The company gathered a group of strong data scientists to work on projects ranging from financial service, health care, insurance to manufacturing. The company scientists participated in important data mining contests such as KDD cup and Netflix contest, demonstrating strong technical and research skills.
Opera Solutions works with large to mid-sized companies, and has been growing rapidly. It raised $84 million funding in late 2011, and then another $30 million in May 2013. Today the company is valued at $500 Million.

3. Actian
       Based in Redwood city, CA, Actian provides data analytic platform.  They acquired another data company ParAccel recently.

4. Fractal analytics
    The company was founded in 2000, and headquartered in San Mateo. It has significant operation presence in India. It provides business intelligence and analytic service for financial service, insurance, and telecommunication industries.  

6. Grok
They provide asset (equipment) management for manufacturers, and predictive modeling. The company was founded in 2005, and based in Redwood city.

5. Alpine Data labs
     They offer in-house consulting and 24-hour initial delivery.  It raised $7.5 million round A funding in May 2011. The company is based in San Mateo.

7. Skytree
The company specifically focuses on machine learning. It just raised $18 million round A funding in April 2013, after starting in early 2012 (with $1.5 million seed fund). The company is based in San Jose.