Founders’ Blog: Building a Next-Generation Data Company
At 6sense, we believe we’ve entered the Data Age. New technology and data modeling techniques allow industry leaders to engage with data at scale like never before. “The difference we’re seeing,” says 6sense CEO, Amanda Kahlow, “is that the companies leading the way are using machine learning and predictive intelligence to derive prescriptive, data-driven actions for their marketing and sales teams. They’ll be Silicon Valley’s next generation of winners, just like Google, Apple, Amazon, LinkedIn and Netflix are now.”
The core tech team includes 6sense co-founders Viral Bajaria, Dustin Chang and Premal Shah, the same group that helped grow Hulu into a billion dollar company. They are credited with building one of the largest and earliest instances of Hadoop. The data platform they built captured over 3 billion events per day and managed over 1 petabyte of data. Their leadership in big-data processing made them overnight celebrities and a highly sought after team for advising others on how to leverage big data.
Rather than consulting companies on how to use big data, Viral, Dustin and Premal had a better idea: “We wanted to see if we could build an application that would put the power of big data and predictive intelligence directly in the hands of business users who needed the information, without the barriers to entry that big data presents,” says Viral Bajaria, co-founder and CTO at 6sense.
“For us, the challenge was about scale. We looked at the enterprise B2B space and saw that with the right data we could influence how millions of dollars in marketing are spent. Lead scoring was a pretty simple process from a data standpoint; you’re ranking people you already know,” says Viral. “It’s a completely different ball game to use time-sensitive data from the outside world and connect it back to a companies’ internal data to make better business decisions.”
“We wanted to see if we could build an application that would put the power of big data and predictive intelligence directly in the hands of business users who needed the information, without the barriers to entry that big data presents.” – Viral Bajaria, co-founder and CTO at 6sense
“Our goal is to build the largest B2B buyer data network to give our customers complete visibility into their addressable market and their buyers,” says Viral. “We want to get to a place where marketing and sales teams won’t need to build lists or hire data analysts to recommend their next action. 6sense will do that work for them.”
To get there requires building a data science and engineering team that works very closely together. “There are no ‘solo careers’ at 6sense,” says co-founder Premal Shah. “We are looking for people who see the big picture and want to tackle big problems.”
Everyday, 6sense’s team of software engineers looks at data at a high level. “Most engineers don’t get to build things at scale. Their time is spent solving small issues, not dealing with the breadth of data we deal with at 6sense,” explains co-founder Dustin Chang. “We’re building something end-to-end, rather than only focusing on discrete tasks like cleaning or modeling. Everyone at 6sense gets a chance to have a hand in the way the product is built.”
6sense’s data scientists process billions of rows of structured and unstructured data every day. “We are working with the largest predictive data sets available and simultaneously developing APIs that will make predictive the central nervous system of every marketing and sales operation. Everything modern marketers need to stay competitive, from website personalization to powering the next wave of B2B advertising campaigns, we will deliver,” says Viral Bajaria.
“To achieve this, unlike most advertising data companies,” says Dustin Chang “we don’t simply normalize the data to fit into 10 rows. We actually listen to the data and work to understand the signals it represents for our customers. This is tremendously more challenging work.”
“It’s also tremendously more rewarding,” says Viral Bajaria “our data scientists get to pose hypotheses and then test them on some of the largest data sets in the world. We’re very excited to grow our team and tackle the biggest technological challenge of our time.”