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Nick Halstead, Chief executive officer, InfoSum

Path to power

 

After teaching myself programming, I began my career developing games. In 2008, I saw how important Twitter could be as a data source so, with encouragement from my wife, I decided to start my own company. I built the first demo of Twitter link aggregation over a weekend, known as fav.it.or, which later spawned TechMeme and eventually the Retweet button which I sold to Twitter in 2010. Later that year, I founded DataSift, the leading real-time social data platform which went on to raise over $72 million. I then spent five years pushing boundaries on the power of social data and how it can be integrated into businesses. As much as I enjoyed growing the company, I love early-stage start-ups. So, I decided to step down as CEO in 2015 and founded my latest venture, InfoSum, and raised $8 million in seed funding. While DataSift focused on social data, I knew there was huge potential for a new technology that makes customer data accessible in a privacy-safe way. At InfoSum, we’ve spent two years building our decentralised platform and are now helping global organisations to perform analytics on customer data while keeping it secure and private.

 

What has been the highlight of your career in the industry to date?

 

I can’t point at one key moment. Building a big company is being on a constant rollercoaster of huge highs and also some big lows. Signing the first-ever deal to resell the Twitter Firehose was huge, but many years later they stabbed us in the back.

 

If you could give your younger self some advice about how to progress in this industry, what would it be?

 

Always surround yourself with bright people.I didn’t expect to see such a strong outcry from the public around the way Facebook was handling customer data. It’s been really refreshing to see privacy at the forefront of discussion, and for seemingly untouchable companies be called out for their shady uses of data.

 

What do you expect 2019 to be like for the industry?

 

I expect to see further disillusion around blockchain, but for the industry to look for solutions that provide the benefits, such as decentralisation and increased data security.

 

Talent and skills are always a challenge to find - how are you tackling this in your organisation?

 

I started InfoSum with the aim of it being a technology-led company to attract the top talent in the developer market and to allow them to experiment and build great products. We have maintained a flat structure without the need for layers of management. This is reinforced by an inclusive social culture in the office, which sees the team gather together every day for lunch (provided by the company) and play board and card games together. Team members are encouraged to attend events, with the company funding one conference a year and expenses for meet-ups in London.

 

What aspect of data, analytics or their use are you most optimistic about and why?

 

I feel optimistic about a new area of technology that enables data analytics in an ethical and privacy-safe way. Consumers have realised how valuable their personal data is, so the companies that adopt these technologies will have a competitive advantage and continue to build trust with their customers.Data and analytics technology/service provider

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