I have accepted an offer to advise Ampush Media, a new online education marketing company. There are many big players in this space (see Ampush’s own research on the QuinStreet IPO), but this is the hottest new entrant.
The founding team is Aniket (Nick) Shah and Jesse Pujji, who both have Wall St. backgrounds. We will see how their ruthlessly analytic Wall St. approach will yield new solutions. So far they’ve made more progress in the industry than any other new company I’ve seen. Our lead gen industry is definitely getting attention from new groups of people; LeadsCon was 2x the size this year, and included large, previously unseen contingents from NYC and SF.
This is the sort of thing I like about this team: While reviewing their negotiations for an (impressively large) contract last week, I referenced Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power, and they knew the book inside out.
Everything in lead gen is measurable and requires optimization. They hired Demetri Spanos as Chief Scientist, a PhD from CalTech who is a bonofied search marketing expert. He has deep experience in machine learning and natural language processing. The first product, Teacher’s Pet, takes a lot of the quantiative finance techniques Nick & Jesse used to analyze stocks, and applies them to paid search keyword bidding. Using multiple algorithms, they’ve automated the entire optimization process including keyword selection, ad variations, bidding, and landing page variations, with feedback loops from lead conversions, applications and enrollments. They are currently working on a display media product which also uses quantitative finance algorithms.
The Extended Team
Google crawls the web, caches and indexes the pages it finds into a database, and provides a consumer user interface to search that database. What if we could build other applications on top of that same database?
Not having access to Google’s copy of the web, other companies do the same thing as Google themselves in order to provide their services. Some examples:
- Attributor lets large publishers find video, image, and text copyright infringements.
- TinEye lets users upload an image and see where it is used online.
- MajesticSEO lets website owners track backlinks to their pages.
Amazon has a growing list of Public Data Sets. What if they could provide cached “views” of the web that could be processed using EC2 or Elastic MapReduce? That would allow more entrepreneurs to think big about using the whole of the web as a data set.
Amazon’s Public Data Sets already has some cached versions of Wikipedia. Companies (like Freebase) and researchers (such as Jun Liu & Sudha Ram) seem to use them. My wish is we had such a query-able data store for all websites.
Until we have such a data source and platform, here’s Ilya Grigorik’s excellent presentation on Building a Mini-Google in Ruby to do it ourselves.