Hiding Data Kills Innovation

Location: E145 Level: Novice
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The cost of Information Technology has plummeted for the past 50 years. Every year it becomes cheaper to compute, store, and manage information. The cost of the Information itself, however, (the all-important “I” in “IT”) has seen no substantial drop. Software developers and entrepreneurs alike increasingly struggle to access clean, transparent, trusted data in bulk for use in building applications. Data is all too often hard to find, expensive, opaque, or just plain hidden from view. Software developers and entrepreneurs are working under suboptimal conditions and industry growth remains stunted as a result.

Hiding data in a siilo no longer needs to be the status quo. Indeed, this presentation argues that it shouldn’t be. In this presentation, Gil Elbaz will discuss the detriments of hiding data and the relationship between data accessibility and innovation. He will explore emerging business models that increase data accessibility and key factors driving the continued development of these business models. Gil will conclude by sharing his predictions on how the next few years will play out for data accessibility.

Photo of Gil Elbaz

Gil Elbaz


Gil Elbaz is an accomplished entrepreneur and pioneer of natural language technology. In 1998, Gil co-founded Applied Semantics Inc. (ASI) which developed contextual advertising products including ASI’s AdSense. In 2003, Google acquired ASI and Gil stayed on as the director of engineering for the Santa Monica office and continued to work on AdSense and other products. Prior to founding ASI, Gil worked in engineering roles at IBM, Sybase and SGI.

In 2007, Gil left Google to explore new ideas and passions and went on to found a new company, Factual, an open data platform. Factual launched its public beta in October 2009 and has set out to develop an open data platform and community in an effort to maximize data accuracy, transparency, and accessibility. Since launch, the company has received early investor funding by renowned technology notables and investment funds including Andreessen Horowitz, Bill Gross, Danny Rimer, Esther Dyson, Founder Collective and many more. At the same time Gil founded Factual, he also founded the non-profit foundation, Common Crawl. Common Crawl is dedicated to building and maintaing an open repository of web crawl data in order to drive innovation in research, education and technology.

Gil earned his bachelor’s degree from the California Institute of Technology with a double major in Engineering & Applied Science and Economics. Active in a number of non-profits, Gil is on the Board of Trustees at California Institute of Technology as well as the Board of Trustees for the X-Prize Foundation. Gil is president and founder of the CommonCrawl Foundation and is an angel investor, and sits on the board of Opposing Views.


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