“Everybody says, ‘It’s amazing—you’re an overnight success!’ But they don’t realize that we spent six years working on all these data products before we even put up a website for the company, which only happened a couple of months ago,” explains Greg Skibiski, CEO of Thasos Group.
The firm, which won this year’s best newcomer award, also won the product of the year category, which makes this the third straight year that the newcomer of the year also took home the product of the year award, with Thasos joining Commcise (2016) and Algomi (2015).
The vendor was founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2011, where it spent three years developing the platform—incorporating elements learned from Skibiski’s previous company, Sense Networks, which analyzed data from phone carriers—and then an entire year sitting inside a New York-based hedge fund with over $10 billion in assets under management working alongside portfolio managers to better understand their data needs. After that, it was another two years of beta testing with select hedge funds to finalize the service.
Thasos combines GPS data and Wi-Fi triangulation to provide real-time location data, allowing the vendor to accurately locate a cellphone user to between 1-3 meters. This accuracy is unique to Thasos because other vendors use carrier data, which is only accurate—at best—to approximately 30 meters, as it uses cellphone tower triangulation, which cannot accurately place a single individual in a single location. Thasos then creates reports for hedge funds thirsty for this new form of alternative data.
John Collins, chief product officer at Thasos, says that two key changes have transpired to help make this service more viable. First, cellphone users are more comfortable with the notion of companies collecting this kind of information. For the Thasos product, the individual’s identity is protected as the data is anonymized and aggregated. Second, Thasos uses Amazon Web Service’s cloud to store and crunch these massive datasets. “AWS gives [users] a large number of machines that allow us to compute on 5 terabytes—per day—of raw data, which is a massive number,” he says. “Having a cost-effective solution that not only allows our data sources to push data directly to our cloud, but also allows us to push our products directly to our clients through the same cloud—well that becomes really efficient.”
The ability to use technology to accurately pinpoint individuals, combined with the ability to ingest and drill down into these massive datasets to provide information supporting hedge funds’ trading decisions is why Thasos is both the BST Awards newcomer and product of the year winner. We expect big things from this company for years to come.
Rich Newman joins to talk about challenges facing the alternative data space and why open data is becoming increasingly important.Subscribe to Weekly Wrap emails