EXCLUSIVE: ‘Data Elite’ Grad Helps Turn Site Comments Into Big Data Gold


ADOTAS – Every entrepreneur remembers the time when they got the call that changed their life. For entrepreneur Patrick Giblin (pictured), it happened about 5 months ago.

The competition among tech startups is incredibly fierce, with 3 out of 4 destined to fail, according to research released by Harvard Business School. And its simply not enough just to have a great idea – companies need a vision, solid leadership, determination, and capital to turn their big ideas into products that people will get people to open up their wallets.

Just launched out of stealth, Giblin’s company 451 Degrees is one of a handful of companies in the first graduating class of Data Elite, a new venture lab backed by Silicon Valley VC heavy-hitters Andreessen Horowitz, Formation 8, Ron Conway, Anand Rajaraman and The Social + Capital Partnership. Singularly focused on big data, Data Elite was created to help nurture emerging companies with great potential by providing them with resources, mentorship and industry expertise for companies selected to participate in the program.

“As an entrepreneur, being selected as part of the Data Elite program has been a phenomenal experience,” said Giblin, founder and principal of 451 Degrees and entrepreneur in residence at Data Elite. “I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal last year about Marc Andreessen using seed capital to start a new big data program for startups called Data Elite and I applied.”

Giblin’s company was based on a simple yet brilliant premise: Website content is dynamic in nature. As new comments appear, they exponentially influence and shift social conversations over time, unearthing new tangential associations and keywords that can then be used fuel more accurate SEO and ad targeting.

451 Degrees has created a product called Graffiti that examines social conversations around content, analyzes it and extracts relevant data that can be used for highly targeted marketing and advertising.

For example, when a story broke in the San Diego Union Tribune that retired Chargers linebacker Junior Seau had been found dead, comments exploded on the articles page and also across other social channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

As the 845 comments and 783 commenters shifted the conversation towards what might have caused the death, 8,267 new keywords were automatically generated based on the new discussions, including “suicide,” “bankruptcy,” “depressed,” and “gunshot.” These then created 150+ new AdWords in real-time, including “therapists,” “home security,” “insurance,” and “counseling,” that were used to fuel display ad delivery networks and Google AdSense. Advertisers then bid using RTB to place their ads on the Union Tribune website.

Even with having conceived and developed such an elaborate algorithm, Giblin remained humble.

“I honestly thought I had about a 1-percent chance of getting it [acceptance into Data Elite],” he said. “Then I got a phone call from them asking me and my partner to fly up to San Francisco to give a presentation. We of course said yes. After we arrived at the airport in San Francisco, I received an email from Data Elite saying we got accepted. I was absolutely shocked, thought it was a mistake and showed it to my partner. We were in disbelief, and when we arrived at the offices we pretended like we hadn’t seen it and started the presentation. Then about halfway through I stopped and said, ‘You know, I think this was a mistake, but I got this email this afternoon that we were already accepted.’ The guys at Data Elite looked at each other, burst out laughing and said. ‘Yep, you guys are in.’ It was one of the best days in my life.”

451 Degrees has made some serious traction on the customer front, working with companies like NBC News, San Diego Union Tribune, Hard Rock Hotel, House of Blues, and Playboy.


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