Context Relevant doesn’t want to be the next “acquihire,” selling out to a large technology company before the promise of its technology is realized.
Even though offers have flowed in to the five-month old Seattle “big data” startup, that’s just not in the cards, says co-founder and vice president of products Christian Metcalfe, a former Isilon executive.
Nope, Context Relevant, which is developing tools to take the heavy-lifting associated with data analysis, and make it far easier to sift through the information, has bigger plans. And a few moves by the 10-person company today indicate that it is ramping up efforts.
Context Relevant has hired Dustin Hillard, a data science and machine learning expert who earned his Ph.D. from the University of Washington, as director of engineering. In past roles at Microsoft, Hillard built systems to improve the large-scale processing and machine learning for advertising, natural language and speech. Also joining the team is Scott Golder, a former researcher at Google, HP Labs and Microsoft who is joining the company as data scientist and staff sociologist. Golder is currently on leave from the Ph.D. program in sociology at Cornell University, and holds degrees from Harvard and the MIT Media Laboratory.
Context Relevant also has formed a data science advisory board that includes William Arms, Professor Emeritus of Computing and Information Science at Cornell University; Claire Cardie, Professor of Computer Science and Information Science at Cornell; Thorsten Joachims, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Cornell; and Dan Weld, Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington.
Why the Cornell connections? The company is led by data scientist Stephen Purpura — an expert in artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics who is studying for his Ph.D. in information sciences at Cornell University.
“The science behind Big Data analytics is constantly changing,” said Purpura in a release today. “Members of our advisory board have helped define — and even reinvent –search and deep analytics. We are counting on the board to keep us sharp and help us maintain the scientific rigor to make sure our technology continues to stay ahead of the pack.”
That technology will get a preview today as Purpura demonstrates the big data analytics and statistics technology at an event hosted by a large technology company in Seattle.
Previously, Purpura has said that the tools help eliminate “data analysis paralysis” where companies get stuck capturing massive amounts of data, but aren’t quite sure what to do with it. With Context Relevant’s technology in place, Purpura said that companies can perform analysis on massive data sets in near real time, removing the need for large teams of data scientists to do the analysis.
The company is so confident that it has built something unique that it announced today that it has engaged with law firm Fish & Richardson to protect its intellectual property.
Context Relevant is backed with $1.3 million from Madrona Venture Group, angel investor Geoff Entress and Swype/Nuance executives Mike McSherry, Cliff Kushler and Mark Illing.