Learning Data Science with R

During the past weeks I spent some time learning more about Data Science. After some research, and some useful tweets from Tom Tunguz, I could find the Revolutions blog and a post with a link to a book titled: Introduction to Data Science, from Jeffrey Stanton from Syracuse University School. I started to read the book and now that I have read the first 11 chapters I can rate the book with 5/5 stars.

The book focus is very practical. After the first 2 chapters about the concept of data and the identification of data problems, the author introduces R, the open source data analysis program. Using R the author guides you from the concept of data (From the book: The inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, is often quoted as having said, “Data is not information, information is not knowledge, knowledge is not understanding, understanding is not wisdom”) to more complex concepts like the law of “large numbers” and 

the “central limit theorem”. Through the book you will learn how to interact with the Twitter API and use real time data to understand about Poisson distributions and other statistics and probability concepts (From Wikipedia: Statistics is closely related to probability theory, with which it is often grouped. The difference is, roughly, that probability theory starts from the given parameters of a total population to deduce probabilities that pertain to samples. Statistical inference, however, moves in the opposite direction—inductively inferring from samples to the parameters of a larger or total population). This is the complete list of chapters.

Which is some interesting material related to Data Science that you would like to share?

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IOT overview

Today I was searching for some data related to the Internet of Things (IOT) industry. I searched via twitter. After few minutes I spot this interesting pdf, The Internet of thing Full Report from  Silicon Valley Bank. Following a review of some interesting points from the report:

  • The ‘Internet of Things’ is not an industry. It is an umbrella term encapsulating a collection of interrelated industries. Each sub-industry has its own stakeholders, value chains, and economics, and therefore each must be evaluated individually
  • Successful IoT v1 – An ‘Internet of Some Things’: Numerex (M2M Communications), Cardionet (Patients Monitoring), Intermec (Fleet Management). Primarily enterprise-class, dedicated hosting, high investment, ROI-driven solutions
  • Emerging IoT v2 – An ‘Internet of More Things’: Fitbit (Consumer and Quantified Self), Redwood Systems (Energy Management), Electric Imp (Mass Enablement Technologies). A new class of tools and solutions driven by decreasing hardware prices and cloud infrastructure
  • Key drivers advancing the Internet of Things: Big data analytics, Moore’s Law (e.g.: Decreasing Prices of Wireless Sensors, Hardware, ), Metcalfe’s Law (e.g.: Wireless Connectivity Technologies)
  • Notable VCs investing in IOT are: KPCB, DAG, Khosla, Lighthouse, and NEA.  Notable Strategic Investors include: Intel, BestBuy, Cisco, and Comcast
  • Internet of Things Segmentation: communication, connected healthcare, enablement, energy and environment, enterprise and IT, heavy industry, retail and commerce,  secure and safety, smart building, transportation and logistics
  • To get a product to market and successfully expand (Series C and beyond), it takes, on average, $30M+ in total invested capital. Given some of the quick hits in recent years (e.g. Instagram), IoT factors such as hardware development, inventory management, long sales cycles, and/or slower than expected up-take may explain the lack of investment activity

One of the conclusions from the author is that advancements in technology have created a renaissance for the Internet of Things. Specific sub-sectors show promise, but significant technological hurdles still remain to realize the holistic vision.

I then followed my research. This time using Google search and found the following interesting links:

Some of the insights from the Cisco research are:

  • The Internet of Everything is poised to generate at least $613 billion in global corporate profits in calendar year 2013
  • IT-intensive sectors are capturing a higher percentage of IoE value
  • Executives in surveyed countries anticipate job growth and wage increases as a result of IoE
  • Competition will intensify as IoE evens the playing field between large and small companies around the globe.

Cisco focus on IOT has led the company to launch a new BU headed by Robert Soderbery. The group is funded with $200 million in R&D resources, hundreds of people in development and 500 people in sales and marketing. It is focused on four vertical markets: discrete and process manufacturing; transportation; energy; and public sector. To accelerate the development of the rapidly emerging Internet of Things market, Cisco will organize an inaugural Internet of Things World Forum in Barcelona in October.

During my random Internet walk around the IOT technologies in addition to the previous mentioned companies, I’ve found many links to interesting projects and startups. Just to mention 2 of them: Trash track project led by Carlo Ratti from MIT SENSEable City Lab or Netatmo the personal weather station with air quality sensor. Which is an interesting IOT startup or project that you have discovered recently?

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Innovation up in the space

During the past weeks I was checking some data about satellites and found some interesting articles related to innovative companies in the space industry:

In the space there are approximately 1000 satellites, most of them are used for communications, will be interesting to observe how entrepreneurs will find new profitable business models and how they will innovate in this challenging market.

Do you know some interesting startup operating in the satellite sector?

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Good blogging: Tomasz Tunguz – Ex Post Facto

One the best blog that I’m following is Tomasz Tunguz – Ex Post Facto. I like Tom writing style, a great combination of simplicity and intelligence. Recently I spent some time searching in the old posts blog archive. This is a random selection of a few posts that got my attention:

  • How to Analyze Your Startup Like A VC in 15 Minutes Or Less: I like simplicity and I like frameworks for decision making, they help you to organize ideas and to filter information. Tom suggestion is to use 3 frameworks: The Business Model Canvas (BMC), Porter’s Five Forces (P5F), and Value Chain Analysis (VCA). BMC focus on 9 variables: revenue streams, cost structure, value proposition, key partners, key resources, key activities, customer segment, customer relationships, channels. P5F focus on 5 variables: supplier power, barriers to entry, substitutes, customer power, competition. VCA focus in understanding the internal firm activities
  • A Formula For Innovation: Tom simplify the concept of innovation is a brilliant formula: innovation=invention+marketing+timing. Like in a dialogue invention is the argument, marketing is the speaker, timing means that there is a listener
  • The Return of Venture Backed Hardware: Nest, Sonos, Thalmic Labs, Leap Motion, Electric Imp are some examples of companies that are surfing the new wave of innovation in the hardware sector. Most of this innovation is the result of a combination of sensors+wireless communications+software applications. The data produced by innovative hardware can be elaborated using cloud computing and big data analysis, and can be accessible every where and every time
  • The 11 Risks VCs Evaluate: decision making is often about finding the right combination of risk and return. An interesting perspective over risk, is the one faced by the VC analyzing a startup. This analysis is segmented by Tom in 11 areas: market timing, business model, market adoption, market size, execution, technology, capitalization structure, platform, venture management, financial, legal

There are many more posts on interesting topics like communication skillsbusiness development, startup metrics. Which are your preferred posts? Which blog writers for technology innovation topics are you following?

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Ship tracking

One of the best website for ship tracking information is marine traffic. With a quick research on Google we can find different alternatives: vesseltracker, shipfinder.com, shipfinder.co, lloydsintelligencelist.

The technology that these websites use to track vessels information is called AIS (Automatic Identification System). Following some information from Wikipedia.

AIS is an automatic tracking system used on ships and by vessel traffic services (VTS) for identifying and locating vessels by electronically exchanging data with other nearby ships, AIS base stations, and satellites. When satellites are used to detect AIS signatures then the term Satellite-AIS (S-AIS) is used. AIS information supplements marine radar, which continues to be the primary method of collision avoidance for water transport.

AIS transponders automatically broadcast information, such as their position, speed, and navigational status, at regular intervals via a VHF transmitter built into the transponder. The information originates from the ship’s navigational sensors, typically its global navigation satellite system (GNSS) receiver and gyrocompass. The signals are received by AIS transponders fitted on other ships or on land based systems, such as VTS systems. The received information can be displayed on a screen or chart plotter, showing the other vessels’ positions in much the same manner as a radar display. The AIS standard comprises several substandards called “types” that specify individual product types: Class A (Vessel-mounted AIS transceiver (transmit and receive) which operates using self-organised time-division multiple-access (SOTDMA) ), Class B (Vessel-mounted AIS transceiver (transmit and receive) which operates using either carrier-sense time-division multiple-access (CSTDMA)or SOTDMA), Base Station (Shore-based AIS transceiver (transmit and receive) which operates using SOTDMA), Aids to Navigation (AtoN – Shore- or buoy-based transceiver (transmit and receive) which operates using fixed-access time-division multiple-access (FATDMA)), Search And Rescue Transponder (SART) (Specialist AIS device created as an emergency distress beacon which operates using pre-announce time-division multiple-access (PATDMA), or sometimes called a “modified SOTDMA”), Specialist AIS Transponders.

AIS receivers are not specified in the AIS standards, because they do not transmit. The main threat to the integrity of any AIS system are non-compliant AIS transmissions, hence careful specifications of all transmitting AIS devices. The International Maritime Organization‘s International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea requires AIS to be fitted aboard international voyaging ships with gross tonnage (GT) of 300 or more tons, and all passenger ships regardless of size.

Shipboard AIS transponders have a horizontal range that is highly variable, but typically only up to about 74 kilometres (46 mi). They reach much further vertically – up to the 400 km orbit of the International Space Station (ISS).

Some of the people behind the companies that are using AIS to map ship positions meet recently at the AIS-Summit event in Hamburg.

There are other technologies that permit to track ships, like the fleet management solution from Polestar. This solution uses the IsatM2M Inmarsat network.

Do you know other interesting ship tracking systems?

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Technology market: a perspective from the sea

One of my areas of interest is related to technologies at sea. In particular the niche market located at the intersection between satellite telecommunication, IT and maritime sectors.  Some interesting numbers related to these sectors are provided from this 4 sources:

Following some points that got my attention:

  • Satellite industry is valued $177.3 Billion as the intersection of the Telecom industry ($4.23 Trillion) and the Space industry ($289.8 Billion)
  • The global satellite industry posted 5% growth in 2011
  • Of 994 operational satellites, 38% are commercial communications satellites
  • All four satellite industry segments posted growth in 2011: Satellite Services, Satellite Manufacturing, Launch Industry, Ground Equipment
  • The number of commercially-procured launches remained relatively stable, increasing from 54 in 2010 to 56 in 2011 (Geosynchronous (GEO) 24, Low Earth Orbit (LEO) 23, Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) 9, does not include launches conducted by government entities for government customers outside of commercial procurement processes)
  • In 2012, the IT sector technology equity is worth $7T and represents 14.7% of the total global market cap
  • In 1990, technology oligarchs controlled the industry. The largest 10 IT companies represented over 80%. In 2012 the top 10 companies’ share rebounded to 30% of total IT market cap
  • In 2012 the top IT firms market capitalized companies are: Apple, Microsoft, IBM, China Mobile, Samsung, Google, ATT, Oracle, Vodafone, Intel
  • Microsoft and Intel are the only companies present the top 10 market caps each decade, a testament to technology’s relentless pursuit of invention and innovation
  • Commercial maritime market represents 75,421 vessels. Other potential maritime markets are: Fishing 32,669 vessels, Inland 18,033 vessels, and Leisure 1,028,000 vessels
  • COMSYS projects vigorous growth in the maritime VSAT market, forecasting that the number of vessels in service will double by 2016, bringing the total number of VSATs in service to more than 26,000
  • VSAT maritime market revenue expanded 9% in 2010 and 2011 and is now close to $1 billion

My interest in technology has led me to analyse it from different perspectives. My present perspective is from the sea. What is your perspective?

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The VC market in Italy, Europe, and USA

Few months ago I had the opportunity to watch an interesting video where Fred Wilson discussed with some entrepreneurs in Milan about his VC experience. Following a selection of Fred’s observations:

  • Tolerance for risk is not existing in the EU mind-set
  • Out of 20 investments, 5 will fail
  • VCs in USA look for entrepreneurs that are taking great risks
  • Fred has invested in 6/8 startups in various EU cities (e.g.: Berlin, London)
  • There are few good EU investors that are capable to accept the USA investing approach
  • Winning pitches, are the ones where the entrepreneur is capable to walk him on the top of the mountain and show paradise land on the other side
  • When deciding between product vs. team, Fred decision is toward the product because is a reflection of the team
  • Startup Communities from Feld is a book that Italians could benefit from, because is a guide for building the right ecosystem for the startups growth

One of the points that got my attention was the Fred comments regarding his investment approach vs. European VCs approach.  Fred observations led me to think about some of the consequences of these different approaches. A consequence maybe is related to the VC markets dimensions in USA and Europe. Following some posts describing the VC market dimension in Italy, Europe, and USA:

  • The VC market in Italy: the post is from the founder of Dpixel, Gianluca Dettori. The author analyses some of the findings from the latest EVCA year report. Following some finding: In Europe the VC market in 2011 raised 4,85B€, the VC firms are 135 and 29 raised new funds in 2011. The companies that have been financed are 3.143, rising 4B€, with an average 1M€. The investments in Southern Europe (Greece, Italia, Spain, and Portugal) raised 11% of the total. Considering an equal sharing of the funds between the 4 countries, Italy received 3% of the total 4B€. To have some additional information related to the VC/startup Italian environment, Mindthebridge.org every year publish an interesting analysis of the startup Italian scene
  • The VC market in Europe: To have some understanding of the market in 2012, I will use the following article from the WSJ: European Venture-Capital Industry. The post highlights the VC market decline for 2012. Across all sectors during 2012 venture capitalists put €4.4 billion ($5.9 billion) into a total of 1,074 deals, a slight drop of 9% in capital invested and 11% in the number of deals completed in 2011. To follow the VC/PE activity in the European technology market I will highlight the following report from go4venture website.
  • The VC market in USA: for the latest updates we can refer to the pwcmoneytree report, or we can refer to several techcrunch articles (1,2,3). From the previous sources we learn that the USA VC firms raised $20.6 billion from 182 funds in 2012, representing a 10%  increase in dollar commitments when compared with 2011, which saw 18.7 billion raised from 187 funds

Which are the other consequences of the different investment strategies between European and USA VCs?

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