Nick Beim

Thoughts on the Economics of Innovation

Dataminr and the Science of Real-Time Information Discovery

Today Dataminr announced a $130m round of financing from a group of leading financial institutions and prominent financial thought leaders including John Mack, Vikram Pandit, Tom Glocer and Noam Gottesman.  

A number of friends have asked me about the company and what I find most interesting about it. This seemed like a good opportunity to highlight a few thoughts. 

What I find most interesting about Dataminr is that in addition to building a business, it is pioneering a new science. The science is real-time information discovery, and it involves sifting through the ever-growing tidal wave of real-time public data to identify and determine the significance of breaking events by their nascent digital signatures, as they happen. Sometimes these events are well-wrapped, for example by someone witnessing an event and tweeting about it, with others providing corroboration. Sometimes they aren’t, with algorithms figuring out what is happening by seeing thousands of facets of something larger. The company has a deep strategic partnership with Twitter that makes this kind of discovery possible. 

This new science is, without a doubt, very cool. It enables one to discover news before it’s news and market-moving information before markets move. It provides a kind of X-ray vision into what is going on in the world in real-time with a filter for what is significant, and to whom. All on the basis of publicly available data.

In a period of five months, Dataminr has become the real-time wire service used almost universally by major news organizations, beating out the next best service by over an hour and discovering troves of unknown unknowns that would never have otherwise come to light. It has become adopted by the lion’s share of leading financial institutions to have access to the frontier of breaking information in real time.  

What’s also interesting is how Dataminr will change the world. In my view most industries that rely on real-time information — an ever-increasing number — will be influenced by it, and some will be transformed by it. The wave of change began in the fields of finance, news and public safety, and I think will move quickly to risk management, security and PR. And undoubtedly to other verticals in ways that are difficult to predict. I am particularly excited about what the company and its technology can do to help save lives in the fields of public safety and humanitarian assistance.  

Dataminr is in the early days of a long journey, but it is already impacting the world in significant ways, and it’s exciting to be a part of.

A Debate about the Future of NY Tech

HotTopics recently hosted an interesting debate moderated by Jeff Glueck about the future of the NY tech scene that I participated in along with Kevin Ryan, Dennis Crowley, Jessica Lawrence, Alfred Lin and Bob Goodman.

Here are the highlights. Some of the big questions we hit were:

-How is the NY technology ecosystem different than Silicon Valley?
-What are NY’s key strengths and challenges?
-Where does NY tech go from here?
-Does NY favor startups that focus on making money over big-swing platforms that defer their focus on revenue?
-In this inning of information technology, what kinds of industries are disrupted by insiders vs. outsiders?

I wish we had had more time to discuss this last question, as it is a very interesting one worth a debate or series of blog posts in its own right.

A Discussion With Some of New York’s Most Successful Repeat Entrepreneurs

Some of the most helpful advice in building startups comes from entrepreneurs who have been there and done it successfully multiple times. To try to find and highlight the best advice of this kind, we recently hosted a panel discussion with a group of New York’s top repeat entrepreneurs, including:

-Kevin Ryan: cofounder and Chairman of the Gilt Groupe, MongoDB, Business Insider, Zola
-Brian O’Kelley: founder and CEO of AppNexus, CTO of Right Media
-Fabrice Grinda: founder/cofounder of OLX, Zingy and Aucland

Together these entrepreneurs founded or cofounded 14 companies that are worth over $6.3 billion and currently employ over 3,000 people, which is a pretty astonishing statistic. They have also made over 150 angel investments in 10 continents across almost every technology sector.

It was a great discussion with a lot of wisdom on the subject of what matters most in building a successful company and key mistakes to avoid. We also had a chance to share some thoughts on the future of the New York technology scene.

The Rise and Future of the New York Startup Ecosystem

made_in_ny2Like many who have been active in the New York startup ecosystem over the past decade, I am optimistic about its future. The last 10 years have seen an increasing number of startup successes in New York — Shutterstock, Tumblr, AppNexus, Gilt Groupe, MongoDB, Etsy, Buddy Media, Warby Parker, Kickstarter, Gerson Lehrman, and OnDeck Capital to name some, with many others on the rise. Venture and angel funding are increasing, large internet companies including Google and Facebook are growing their New York offices, and Cornell and Technion are collaborating to build a large engineering campus on Roosevelt Island.

As optimistic as I am, it’s always useful to check one’s optimism with data. The data takes some work to pull together, and not all of it is public, but when one does pull it together, it paints a very promising picture, one showing that New York has been the fastest-growing technology startup ecosystem in the country over the past 10 years and now ranks second behind Silicon Valley in all key metrics.

These trends suggest strong continued momentum for New York, but if one really wants to get a good sense of where the ecosystem is going, it’s important to take a close look at the primary factors driving its growth.  Other technology startup ecosystems have had periods of rapid growth only to slow down substantially when the macro factors driving their growth dissipated.

A close examination of the macro factors driving New York’s growth suggests that the ecosystem is still in the early stages of its development and that its rapid growth will likely last for many years to come.

The Growth in Venture Financing
So how big, exactly, is New York’s technology startup ecosystem, and how quickly is it growing?  The best proxy for the size of a startup ecosystem is the total amount of venture capital invested in it.  Judged this metric, New York has been the fastest-growing technology startup ecosystem in the U.S. over the past 10 years and currently ranks #2 in the country behind Silicon Valley:


With $2.6 billion in venture capital invested in 2013, New York’s technology startup ecosystem is currently 87% larger than that of Massachusetts and 28% the size of Silicon Valley.