First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Tobias Konitzer: Thank you for asking, we are well. In fact, my wife is expecting our first child, a baby girl.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded PredictWise.
Tobias Konitzer: I come from a background in research, where my goal was to understand people at the intersection of behaviors and attitudes, using massively structured (survey) data and unstructured telemetry data, i.e. all data that passively track individuals’ behaviors – be it media consumption from set-top boxes or device usage or location from cell phones. I hold a PhD from Stanford University and continued answering similar questions at Facebook. After the 2016 election, I was deeply concerned about the state of our Democracy. Witnessing Republicans use Facebook well for its intended purposes as a marketing tool, David Rothschild and I co-founded PredictWise with the explicit goal not only to play catch-up with the Republican leadership in technological innovation but to give Democrats the technological edge for cycles to come. We built a unique database tracking 260 Million Americans alongside behaviors, emotions/personality traits, location, and attitudes, the PredictWise ToolBox. This data and technology were widely used/adapted at the national level by Democrats, and in almost all major swing states (MI, MN, WI, PA, MA, OH, AZ, SC, and ND — which as David reminds me does not yet feature as a battleground state) from everything to using our digital device identifiers for more sophisticated targeting to harnessing our unique database to register unregistered progressives. After the 2020 cycle, accruing over $2M of we made the jump to general martech.
Through market research and two successful pilots, we have developed a completely new solution applying our data to marketing. We call this the PredictWise Principle, which uproots our understanding of measurement in marketing. More specifically, ToolBox augments CRM data from consumer companies purposefully and intentionally with only one goal in mind: predicting customer value and happiness. As opposed to cluttering your CRM with meaningless data, our automated technology runs customer reports on select data points that differentiate high- from low-stakes customers – less data as opposed to more data, cleanliness as opposed to cluttering. Our automated technology then appends highly accurate predicted Customer Lifetime Value to our clients’ CRMs in real-time, and can create platform-independent boutique audiences of high-stakes clients.
How does PredictWise innovate?
Tobias Konitzer: We innovate at the intersection of data and research. We have a proven track record of turning research in technology, and technology into the product. Further, we are constantly innovating our data pipelines and distributed AI. Even though we ingest hundreds of terabytes of data regularly, we continuously cut down on integration time, and have recently improved run-time of our distributed AI by a factor of 10, relying on Bayesian modeling and new technology around graphical processing units.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Tobias Konitzer: Our offerings are mostly supporting digital growth strategies, so if at all, we have seen a huge increase in demand. We have had the most successful and profitable year in the 3 ears of PredictWise history.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Tobias Konitzer: Once choice we always face: what advisors to rely on, and who to position in our ecosystem. The lesson: trust yourself! Don’t fall for fancy titles, flashy resumes, shiny personalities. And, this goes for hiring as well. Trust your instincts!
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and PredictWise in the future?
Tobias Konitzer: To a certain extent, we face uncertain times. Politics has been the number one revenue generator for the company, and we are leaving politics behind. I try to see challenges less through an economic lens, thinking about company resources, but more through a puzzle-solving lens. Hey – this is exciting, and a tough riddle to crack! It speaks to my academic roots, I think.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Tobias Konitzer: Do we have competitors? Sure. Martech sees some 8000 solutions compete for real estate in the various sub-markets: Third-party data audiences, CRM augmentation, and customer insights. But, as far as we believe, none has used technology to uproot our understanding of marketing and success in marketing, as we are in the process of doing.