Stephen E. Arnold: Better Data Is Out There [Just Not From the US Government, or the Banks, or the Corporations, or Most Universities and Media….]]

Data
Stephen E. Arnold
Stephen E. Arnold

Better Data Is Out There

Many have been operating under the assumption that the digital age has been providing us with reliable and accurate information. David Soloff noticed that this was incorrect when he was comparing grocery store prices against a government claim that they had dropped for the first time in more than half a century. Soloff discovered that prices, however, had increased by 5%. People are relying on misconstrued data, so Soloff founded Premise Data Corp. to sell better data. The San Francisco Gate details Soloff in “Google-Backed Startup Seeks Clearer Economic Signals Through Better, Faster, Stronger Data.” Backing the company are Google Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and Harrison Metal.

Premise gathers data with a “global Internet trawl” that reads data from the Internet as well as using the old-fashioned approach of sending people into the field. The company plans on selling its “better” data to financial institutes, packaged good companies, and government and international organizations. So far the only customer they have is Bloomberg, but starting off with a big name like that is not a bad start.

John Morgan, an economist at UC Berkley, does not think it will be as easy to collect data as Premise hopes. He points out that governments change data for their own political aims and stores are not too keen on having people take photos of their wares. These are obvious observations, but Morgan goes on to say that not many people are going to want to buy Premise’s product:

“Meanwhile, he’s dubious that many consumer product companies will pay for this information because there are already many reliable sources on pricing for packaged goods. He’s also doubtful governments will be in the market for this information because they’ll insist on control over the collection and analysis. Morgan said the remaining question is whether Premise can earn a comfortable profit supplying tools to remaining potential customers, such as financial institutions, while paying a worldwide army of data collectors.”

It looks like we will have the choice of data vendors in the future. Who provides the best data? Who is going to be providing Google with the better results? A new market just opened up and Wall Street has not caught on yet.

Whitney Grace, October 29, 2013

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