Big Data -- Strategies For Generating Money In Data-driven Startups

Moderated by:
David Schwab (Sierra Ventures)
Paul Kedrosky (Kauffman Foundation), Todd Papaioannou (Battery Ventures), Robert Thomas (IBM), Clint Johnson (Alpine Data Labs)
Location: Westside Ballroom Level:

Startups are in it to make money—whether by breaking even, being acquired, or finding some other exit. But for data-driven startups, turning bits into dollars can be a challenge. There are privacy issues, data ownership concerns, and questions about how to monetize the business. This panel of investors and entrepreneurs will look at strategies for generating money in data-driven startups.

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David Schwab

Sierra Ventures

Dave joined Sierra in 1996 and has built the firms software investing practice. Dave’s professional career began at Lockheed Corporation in the engineering department where he managed a group of software developers building guidance and control systems. Following his tenure there, he joined Sun Microsystems where he spent 5 years in sales and sales management positions. In 1991 Schwab co-founded Scopus Technology with a fellow Sun sales manager and two other executives. While at Scopus, he served as Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Scopus was taken public and subsequently acquired by Siebel System.

Dave holds Masters and Eng. degrees in Aerospace Engineering from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard University.

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Paul Kedrosky

Kauffman Foundation

Dr. Kedrosky is an investor, speaker, writer, media guy, and entrepreneur. In his spare time he is a dangerous Twitterer, analyst for CNBC television, and the editor of Infectious Greed, one of the most popular financial blogs available over the Interweb.

In the dusty distance of long-ago, Dr K. founded what he is reasonably sure was the first hosted blogging site, GrokSoup. After having grown it to be one the largest such services on the Interweb (admittedly before there were other such services), he demonstrated his unerring ability to enter fast-growing markets before they take off, and exit before they have grown large enough to deliver an island-purchasing exit. The rest is history, or least an index entry in one book on blogging.

Even further back in time, Dr. Kedrosky was one of the first technology equity analysts at a major brokerage firm. Back before there were such things as credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations, and subprime mortgages, we vandalism-loving greed-heads on Wall Street were forced to take down capitalism the hard way — by selling over-valued technology companies to an unsuspecting public via initial public offerings. While it eventually worked out (c.f., the tech crash of 2000), the next generation of Wall Street-ers learned from our inefficiency and took down the global money grid in half the time it took us to mess up Nasdaq. Lesson learned.

He is an active investor in public and private equities, despite having watched both sorts of sausages being made. That almost certainly represents, as Samuel Johnson once said about a man’s second marriage, the triumph of hope over experience. Nevertheless, Dr. Kedrosky has more than fifty early-stage investments to his credit, and rather than brag in an unseemly way about his many successes he will continue to point to that “fifty” number. Fifty, fifty, etc.

Dr. Kedrosky has a Ph.D. in the economics of technology (which he mostly uses when bluffing outside of poker), a master’s degree in finance (which he mostly uses when bluffing in poker), and an undergraduate degree in engineering (which a professor once said he would take away, if he had the means).

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Todd Papaioannou

Battery Ventures

Todd Papaioannou is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Battery Ventures, where he works alongside the Enterprise IT investment team to evaluate investments in Big Data, Analytics, and Cloud Computing infrastructure. Todd has more than 15 years of Internet and Enterprise software experience covering a variety of senior leadership roles in R&D, product and corporate strategy, marketing and professional services.

Prior to joining Battery, Todd was most recently VP, Distinguished Fellow and Chief Cloud Architect for Yahoo!. There, he was responsible for driving the technical and strategic direction of the Yahoo! Cloud and Hadoop teams, and was identified as one of the Top 10 Cloud Computing Leaders of 2011 by TechTarget. Additionally, Todd was responsible for leading and defining the overall Yahoo! corporate technology strategy.

Prior to Yahoo!, Todd held a series of increasingly senior leadership roles at Teradata including CTO, Client Software and VP, Architecture and Emerging Technologies. Over the course of five years he was responsible for transforming the Teradata client software portfolio, conceiving and launching the overall Teradata Enterprise Analytics Cloud computing program, and played an instrumental role in evolving Teradata’s corporate product and M&A strategy.
Earlier in his career, Todd was an early employee at Greenplum Inc. (formerly Metapa Inc.) serving as Chief Architect and Director of Engineering, where he initially built and led the early Engineering team before running the Field Services group. Before that, Papaioannou was Co-Founder and CEO of DALi, Inc, an early stage distributed social gaming company. Todd holds a PhD in artificial intelligence and distributed systems.

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Robert Thomas


Rob Thomas is vice president of business development in IBM’s Information Management Software division, where he leads business development for information management software, including IBM’s enterprise data management and information integration products, and is responsible for mergers and acquisitions, channel strategy and sales, and major ISV and SI partnerships. Recently, he led IBM’s acquisition of Netezza. Rob brings extensive experience in management, business development, and consulting in the high technology and financial services industries and has worked extensively with global businesses.

Previously, Rob worked within IBM’s engineering services and semiconductor business in Asia Pacific, where he was responsible for the $1B operation, which included custom product design and development, as well as manufacturing, and led a team with locations throughout Asia, including development centers in Japan, China, and India. In this capacity, Rob personally managed key engagements with Nintendo (microprocessor design for the Wii), Sony, Konica Minolta, Lenovo, CEC/Greatwall, Samsung, and other leading electronics companies. Rob started with IBM in IBM Global Business Services (GBS). As a partner in GBS, he led the sales and execution of a variety of consulting engagements, focused on strategy and change, operational improvement, and IT implementations to solve specific business issues. Prior to joining IBM, he was an equity research associate at Merrill Lynch and Wheat First Securities, developing a competence in how to value company operations and explore strategic alternatives for companies in a variety of industries. Rob has published articles in a variety of publications, including InfoWorld and Silicon Valley Business Ink, focused on issues and trends in the IT industry, the high technology business, and strategy. Rob is an avid golfer and runner; he lives in New Canaan, CT, with his wife and three children.

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Clint Johnson

Alpine Data Labs

Clint Johnson VP of Customer Solutions for Alpine Data Labs. Prior to joining Alpine, he was the SVP of Data Warehousing and Analytics for Zions Bancorporation, a commercial bank holding company headquartered in the western U.S. In that role Mr. Johnson developed and led the strategy to implement enterprise-scale platforms and technologies for reporting, analysis, and predictive modeling. Mr. Johnson is a Stanford University certified project manager and received his Master’s degree in Operations Research from the Colorado School of Mines and his Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Adams State College, Colorado. He and his family in the mountains of southern Colorado.


  • Aster Data
  • EMC Greenplum
  • GE
  • Lexis Nexis
  • MarkLogic
  • Tableau Software
  • Cloudera
  • DataStax
  • Informatica
  • DataSift
  • Splunk
  • 1010data
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Connotate
  • Media-Science
  • Microsoft SQL Server

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