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Rich Barton speaks at Seattle University's Albers Executive Speaker Series
Rich Barton speaks at Seattle University’s Albers Executive Speaker Series on Tuesday.

Given that he started companies like Expedia, Zillow, and Glassdoor, Rich Barton understands the value and power of data. That’s why he advises today’s students to study something related to data or analytics while they’re in school.

Photo via Shutterstock.
Photo via Shutterstock.

Barton spoke to a group of 300 students earlier this week at Seattle University, telling stories of his entrepreneurial journey and his belief in building technology around data to help create more transparency.

Barton, also an investor in companies like Avvo, Netflix, and RealSelf, ended his talk by recommending that students incorporate some type of data and/or analytics-related education as part of their coursework in school.

“The rockstars, the hardest people for me to hire at my companies right now, are data scientists and data analysts,” Barton said.

These roles are becoming vital as almost all emerging industries in the technology world are crunching and analyzing more and more data every day. The data itself is also “creating new opportunities for new interfaces,” Barton said. He described a “dream” of being able to have a name-tag app built into his glasses that allowed him to easily identify people in the crowd, and maybe some information about the last time he saw them and what they talked about.

“I think we’ll have that within five years,” Barton said.

He added that computer science combined with artificial intelligence is a “really hot area right now,” too.

Barton isn’t alone with touting the value of data. Leaders like Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella echo the same sentiment, with Nadella calling data the “new electricity” in a recent speech that focused on how it is transforming the way we live and work.

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