Archimedes once said “Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the world.” For Thinknum, a data startup, that saying should go “Give me statistics, and I shall measure the world.” The company, whose bread and butter is the collection and analysis of public data, has launched a new blog dedicated to finding fascinating trends in boring numbers.
Led by journalist Joshua Fruhlinger, the new site uses data to assess if “cuffing season” – the tendency to couple up in the winter and spring – is real, why Buzzfeed isn’t hiring, and if Milo Yiannopoulos’ book was really a bestseller.
“You don’t need data in reporting,” said Fruhlinger. “But if we’ve learned anything in the past couple years, you do need facts. Sure, you can just report what someone else already reported and add your own level of analysis, or you can go to a source and quote him or her, but I believe there is serious under-reporting when it comes to straight-up data. People are hungry for facts – statistics, data trails, maps – and I’m in a position to give that to them.”
The site mines data from various sources including OKCupid, Glassdoor, and Amazon. This open data lets Fruhlinger and his team build stories around the data, finding the odd bits of news where none existed before.
“Thinknum has been tracking thousands of data trails for several years – everything from pricing of items at e-commerce sites and retail locations, to tenancy rates for malls and landlords, to job listings at hundreds of companies, to Glassdoor ratings, to LinkedIn stats, to locations of everything from storage lockers to Walmarts, to Facebook checkins. Now that there’s enough data, we’re looking for stories in that data – trends, vector changes and accelerations, anomalies, that kind of thing,” said Fruhlinger.
Thinknum has has “hundreds” of clients including institutional investors, hedge fund managers, and researchers. The company, founded by Gregory Ugwi and Justin Zhen, was part of 500 Startups and has a massive trove of publicly accessible data from which the editors and writers will create cool content.
“It’s terrifying, but also very exciting, as I’ve been here before and have felt the joy that comes with building something from scratch,” said Fruhlinger.