Venture Funded Big Data Analytics Startup, by Ankit Sud

Random jumble of buzz words or a description of my workplace this
semester? Not surprisingly, both. In typical Silicon Valley fashion, this blog post will
focus on metrics (2 to be exact). “Traffic” and “conversion” are metrics I have come
to know and love over the course of my time working at RetailNext and you will
know and love by the end of this post.

RetailNext measures traffic and shopper behavior at real-life brick-and-
mortar stores, much in the way Amazon tracks your behavior on its website. We
are a way of leveling the playing field for retailers around the world. Traffic per
store or per aisle, as you may imagine, is a useful piece of information for managers
to use when determining the ideal time to restock shelves, staff employees, and
position their products. Conversion is the measure of how many people actually
make a purchase after entering a store and is often a useful way to determine store
performance.

At my job, I am also working on driving online “traffic” to the company
website using the magic of Google AdWords as a way of finding new customers.
The sales team then tries to “convert” site visitors to clients. Again, traffic and
conversion haunt me.

Most importantly, I have begun seeing the Silicon Valley Program
participants as traffic and our opinions on the valley as conversion. In the grand
scheme of things, our traffic figure is small (below 20 students), but as I have
learned, a high conversion rate is often more indicative of success. I believe this
program has exposed us to the exciting world of technology, and the alumni, host
companies, and our coworkers have certainly contributed to our conversion.
If nothing else, the Silicon Valley Program is, in many ways, the typical valley
experience. And, in many ways, I couldn’t be happier.

Ankit Sud
CMC
Class of 2014

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An Epic Battle, by Ducky Duckworth

This post is not about how cool my internship is, how much I am learning in class, how little free time I have, or how Mountain View compares to Claremont (there are more trains).  This post is about the epic battle that is currently being waged at the Archstone Mountain View at Middlefield Apartments.  You are probably thinking, “An epic battle?! I thought Mountain View was safe!” Don’t worry Mom; the only weapons being utilized in this battle are tennis racquets.

Allow me to provide you with some details about this nightly tennis, who the players are, and why the matches have turned into battles.  Initially, there were multiple players, Mike Franklin, Maddie Bannon, Locke Brown, Carter Wilkinson, and I have all played at one time or another.  However, most nights I meet Locke on the courts at 8:30pm.  We usually get in two sets before the lights shut off at 10.

Locke and I are not the most consistent tennis players, my racquet often aims shots as though we are playing doubles, and my serve’s passionate affair with the net continues nightly.  However, Locke and I are enthusiastic tennis players.  This combination of enthusiasm and inconsistency fuels our battle.  Match scores oscillate wildly, and having a 4-1 lead often results in losing 6-4.  I would guestimate that 85% of our games involve at least one deuce, and games with 5 or 6 deuces are not uncommon.

A wise person would say that my nightly tennis matches are teaching me valuable lessons that can be applied broadly to the future of my life.  That winning a set after being down three-five, love-forty is teaching me that success can come out of the direst circumstances.  Maybe that’s true, maybe one day when I am cramming for an exam in medical school or working for my board certification I’ll remember back to these nightly matches.  For now, I don’t see the tennis tradition through this lens of greater meaning.  Instead, I go to the court to run around, clear my head, and laugh a lot.

Discovering delight in tennis has inspired me to offer some advice to all you future SVPers.  Be ready and willing to find joy in new pursuits.  Many of the activities you will participate in up here, whether through your job or on your own time, will be things that are new to you.  Don’t be afraid to embrace the novel.  As Steve Jobs once quoted, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”  And bring a racquet.

Ducky Duckworth
CMC
Class of 2014

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My Silicon Valley Experience, by Michael Franklin

Joe inspired me to write a little poem for y’all so that is how I will start my post:

On a hot summer day in mid July
A little boy named Michael began to cry
He hated his current internship at this bank
Everything was so boring and his hopes shrank
The future looked dismal, full of demise
Praying that the Valley would bring a pleasant surprise
Our brave young hero was jealous of his friends going to Spain
Meeting beautiful foreign women, and travelling Europe by train
But little did he know, the Valley would be awesome
With Brock, Filson, Steve, and a professor named Rossum
The rest of my story, will not be in rhyme
But instead, will be prose documenting my time

This summer was my first internship and I was really excited to be interning at this local bank. It all sounded perfect to me, I got to live at home, my work was only five minutes away, and I found a paid internship in the field I was interested in. I discovered very quickly that banking is not what I was trying to do. I really struggled through my internship and did not have high hopes for my upcoming semester in Silicon Valley, as I was doing an accounting internship and believed it would be similar to my summer banking internship. The first week of my internship at Travelzoo was really boring and I was starting to really get concerned and question my career path. But after that first week, everything started getting so much better and all of my concerns were immediately eradicated. As an accounting intern, I was put in charge of the accounts payable department with one of my co-workers. This showed me that I could be trusted with a pretty significant part of the company’s operations while also giving me the opportunity to learn some very helpful skills. As I began mastering my job, I started having more and more free time to pursue my own project. With this free time, I have been taking lessons from what we’ve been learning in our marketing and innovation class and coming up with a new marketing campaign for Travelzoo. I’ve been presenting it to various people in the marketing department and have gotten mainly positive feedback. I am really excited because I am presenting my idea to the CFO of Travelzoo this Thursday and think this could be my lucky break!

One thing I’ve learned this semester is that whatever career path I choose for the future needs to be something I enjoy doing. Before my internships, I naively believed I would be able to do anything, regardless of how boring it was, if I were receiving a good paycheck. I learned that some people can definitely pull that off, but I am not one of them. Mountain View and Silicon Valley in general is an area that fosters innovation and it is very infectious. Since being up here, I have started my first website and my first business with some classmates. I am truly enjoying my time up here and am learning a lot about myself. I can confidently say that I have never worked so hard in my life, but it is always good to see how far you can push yourself.

Michael Franklin
CMC
Class of 2014

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Stone Shou’s Silicon Valley Experience

Have to say, I am really enjoying the valley culture. This semester I’m working for Equinix, and we are one of the biggest data center providers in the world. That is, we host network providers, implementers and users together, and we compete with a lot of other colocation providers. That is, we put network carriers like AT&T and Verizon, cloud providers like Citrix and VMware, enterprises like Disney and Southwest Airlines, all together in the same building, and then we connect them to make sure necessary services are delivered in a nice timely manner. I’m doing some low level work for my team that doesn’t require a deep understanding of networking.

My manager Brian Lillie has been the nicest and one of the most knowledgeable and inspiring people you can know. Being able to spend time with him is a blessing. But honestly, I enjoyed the valley more than I enjoyed working at Equinix. What I benefited most from this program, maybe compared to a lot of classmates, has been from socializing with entrepreneurs that are doing great work. If I am to summarize what I’ve learned: vision and motivation really matter. Another thing I really enjoyed is just that Google has helped organized some great social events. Mr. Jonathan Rosenberg has created a Google group to share things with us, and I’ve enjoyed every piece of article and video clip.

For those considering the Silicon Valley Program, here are a few recommendations. Use company resources well. Really branch out if there’s any chance. I would also recommend you take both classes seriously. Both professors do great jobs organizing the content, and some knowledge you can apply to your work right away. Yeah don’t drink too much coffee at work.

Well I’m actually feeling quite depressed these days, after a good friend left the program, and things just look really fake and dim…man…You’ve heard about plenty of positive stories so far, so I guess it doesn’t matter if I just add a little to the opposite.

Stone Shou
CMC
Class of 2014

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Life @ Project 402, and beyond, by Shiwei Zhang

Key words of life at SVP — 402.

What is Project 402? I walked in Google’s San Francisco office with the same question on September 19th. “402 is the http response code for payment required”, I got the answer from one of the founders of our product, “we just named it 402 when we started the project.” Still confused? Well you must have seen “404 Not Found” before, same thing. And you heard me right, the founder of our product.

Project 402 stands for Google Consumer Survey (GCS). It has been a startup within Google. Googlers have 20% of the time to work on just any project they are interested in, and 402 started off as one of these projects (in case you don’t know already, Gmail came from 20%, too).  It was first launched end of March this year, only 7 months ago. If you are not aware yet, Google is now in market research industry!

Google Consumer Survey, the name pretty much explains itself …… but wait, not quite.

We don’t run surveys, those lengthy questionnaires you may be thinking in your head. We run micro-surveys, one or two questions at one time. If you are market researchers and want to ask just about anything to your customers (of course, not literally anything, we have review policies), we are the cheap yet fast and scientific way to do it. GCS runs your surveys on our publisher networks across nation ( and now Canada and UK, too!) so that you can get a representative sample of your target audience. For an ordinary user browsing the internet, taking a couple of seconds to answer a question will give you access to premium content which otherwise may require login or subscription. (Win Win Win!)

The team has achieved amazing stuff in the 2 months since I joined. The product is constantly developing new features and getting new deals done. Everyday is an exciting day.

  • We launched customized polling with Harris Poll to survey on people’s satisfaction with banks they are dealing with.
  • We got endorsed by Pew, Pew Research, one of the most respected research organizations in the world.
  • “Perhaps it won’t be long before Google, not Gallup, is the most trusted name in polling.” — Nate Silver.

Personally the most exciting thing, look below. Nate Silver mentioned us in his blog in New York Times. We came up top among all online polling for Presidential Election, second if you include live phone polling, etc. The article was printed in the actual paper NYT as well! Pretty amazing for a product that’s been out there for barely more than 6 months!

  • Launched many more features in the product itself!

When you get free lunches, free massages, free shuttles with WIFI and all kinds of other perks, you know it’s Google. When you get email updates on bug status late in the night or sometimes even weekend, new features rolled out and deals signed every week, everything going on in a very fast pace, you know it’s a startup. You know where I’m going — 402 has the best of the two.

 

Oh, I forgot to mention my role in the team. I do hypothesis testing using A/B test tools on our website, a little bit of imagination (or, critical thinking), a little bit of Photoshop, a little bit of understanding of statistics, and a lot of collaboration. I also work to understand user behavior by going through each transactions. Sporadically I take on side projects like election results analysis and Excel programming.

Hmmm, what else have I left out…

Yes I live in Mountain View. Commute 3 hours everyday to and from work on my bike and the Google Bus. Yikes!

Bay Bridge — look below. It was a casual breakfast on 6 floor cafeteria of SF office.

 

Charisma — you get to take classes that interest you, and NO tests OR homework. I took “Presenting with Charisma”. As the name indicates, the class teaches presentations styles and things to practice/notice when you are presenting. We had people videotaped and critiqued each other. I was accidentally registered into the class, as it was meant for experienced presenters, but I’m happy I went.

Conferences — Probably one of my top favorite activities in the program. I try to go to all kinds of tech events in my spare time. Listened to keynotes from CEO of EA, VP of Facebook, VP Google Wallet, interactive sessions with CEO of Intuit, and soon with a Partner at a prominent VC firm in the Bay Area.

Awesome roommate, awesome people —  a 7 out of 10 weirdness roommate, yet energetic and full of ideas/stories to talk about. A group of people you can have fun with and also have intellectual conversations with.

What I realized from SVP program:

I want my future career to be related to technology. It is my passion.
I want to work at Google.
I want to live in San Francisco after I graduate.

I feel fortunate that I got into 402 for my 11 weeks of job at Google. And participating in Silicon Valley Program is probably one of the best decisions I’ve made in college.

Whoever has kept reading until this point, thank you for your attention! Have a nice day.

Shiwei Zhang
Pomona College
Class of 2014

#Google#, #Startup#, #SanFrancisco#, #MountainView#, #BayBridge#, #Conference#, #Pew#, #Harris#, #NateSilver#, #Charisma#

 

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Time flies when you’re having fun… by Locke Brown

Time has been flying by up here in Silicon Valley. With work all day during the week, and class all day on Saturdays, everyone is staying very busy! That isn’t to say we aren’t having any fun though. On top of work, classes, and the accompanying homework and reading, we’ve managed to make it into the city to explore, go to baseball and basketball games, and attend cool events with alumni. Some of us have even made it down to CMC to see friends and get a taste of life at home.

Earlier in the semester, we attended a Giants game with the CMC alumni association. This was a great time to get out of Mountain View and have some fun in the middle of the week. It was great to meet and talk to some other alumni from the Bay Area, and seeing the Giants on their way to World Series Champs was pretty exciting too! We also had the opportunity to go over to the president of CMC’s Alumni Association, Carol Hartman’s house to see the Blue Angels in the San Francisco airshow. It was an awesome opportunity to go into the city, meet alumni, and see some awesome airshow acts!

Last week we had the privilege to attend the Warriors basketball game versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. Jonathan Rosenberg hosted the Silicon Valley Students in his box at the Warriors Stadium, providing awesome food and a great time! Even more epic, there were four seats on the very front row of the floor seats right at the half court line. These were arguably the best seats in the house! Everyone had a chance to sit down there for one quarter of the game. It was amazing – you felt completely immersed in the game, and incredibly small compared to all the players.

As the semester comes to an end, we still have some pretty exciting events coming up to help take our minds off of all the looming presentations and deadlines. We will be going to an SVP reception this week, and then have Thanksgiving break the week after. I think everyone is looking forward to Thanksgiving, as it’ll be four times longer than any weekend we’ve had so far! Even with all the work and events coming up, we’ll try to savor the remaining four weeks on the Silicon Valley Program.

By Locke Brown

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Quick Check-in at the Halfway Point, by Sophia Patrico

Greetings from Mountain View! I can’t believe we are already halfway through the program.

For the students coming up here in the Spring or those thinking about applying in the future, here are some of my observations eight weeks into SVP:
1. Amazing internships. We love our internships. I think all of us up here would agree that the internships make the semester.You will be spending at least 40 hours a week at the office, so it’s important to find a job that fits your interests. Talk to current interns at the company to get a sense of the culture and the type of work you might be doing.
2. Commuting. Some of us work very close to the apartments; others spend about 3 hours a day commuting. Think about whether the commute would be an issue for you and target companies with that in mind. The apartments are close to the train station and freeways, which makes getting to work easier.
3. Not your typical classroom. We have class on Saturdays at Google, which is only a 5 minute drive from the apartments. Dance Dance Revolution, ping pong, a massage chair, bikes, and snacks keep us entertained on our breaks!
4. Alumni events and more. We have a Fun Committee responsible for making sure we have some fun during the semester. Events so far have included dinner with Jonathan Rosenberg, a Giants game, the Space Shuttle Endeavor flyover at NASA Ames, a SF Blue Angels air show viewing at Carol Hartman’s, and an Idea Jam at Intuit.
5. Don’t get sick. Trust me. Make sure you leave time in your busy schedule to get enough sleep and take care of yourself if you feel something coming on.
Also, a shout-out to anyone interested in education and technology
Check out Edmodo! It’s an awesome place to intern (I am lucky enough to be there this semester). You will get to do meaningful work from Day 1, work with great people (including lots of CMC alums!), man your own projects, and might even get lucky enough to go on a Support Team field trip to SF to see a drag show. The company and its user base are growing very quickly, so it is an exciting place to be working.
Sophia Patrico
CMC
Class of 2014
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Silicon Valley Semester Program: Two Monitors and One Pair of Nikes, by Joe Newbry

I don’t have any idea who, if anyone, will read this post. So with this in mind I’ll try and capture the essence of the first monthish of the Silicon Valley Semester Program in an interesting and insightful way.

For the first month of the Silicon Valley Semester Program I had one pair of shoes. This wasn’t a problem for me but as one of my classmates stated “Joe, if you have more monitors that pairs of shoes it’s time ….to get another pair of shoes”.  I have since purchased another pair of comfy nikes. (See photo on left)

On a slightly more serious note my work as a product management intern at Zynga is going well. Farmville will never be the same. End of story.

For those of you who are wondering, the perks at work are great. Like many other companies in Valley there is a free gym on site, free lunch and dinner, and free massages. And yes anyone can bring their dog to work.

The only downside to all this is my 2 hour commute from Mountain View to San Francisco and from San Francisco back to Mountain View. Day after day this hour in and hour out business gets tiring.

Tourist side note: if you want to experience the diversity that San Francisco can offer take the Cal Train out of the city right after midnight…

And now a shameless plug for the program I’m on in poetic form:

 

Selling virtual cows and sheep

Take a break to pet a poodle

Homework hurried; in a heap

Great lunch: noodles

 

The poem above should highlight three things. I shouldn’t write poems late at night, I equate writing poetry with rhyming a few words, and I’m having a great time on the program!

Joe Newbry
CMC
Class of 2014

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Hot Potato

SVP Fall 2012 students pass along an iPad to tell the SVP Story.

Check out this great video:  https://vimeo.com/51713178

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Life on the Silicon Valley Program, by Eric Yee

Hello world. 

Recently I’ve been getting a lot of questions regarding the Silicon Valley Program.  Friends and employers often approach me to get my thoughts on the culture, the people, and the program’s expectations.  For those who have been accepted to SVP or are considering it, I’m here to clear the air and give you some of my perspectives.

First, the culture here is unique.  Upon my first day working at Intuit, I was immediately surprised by the number of people.  With a campus of more than 2200+ people, my initial feeling was that I was just another number, a small one at that being one of a few interns. While at times overwhelming, I believe this is one of Silicon Valley’s many strengths, particularly if you work at a well-established company.  As an industry that thrives on innovation, more often than not you will be thrust into a team.  Having said that, each team is like a watch in which every role player represents a different moving part. Subsequently, the work environment requires a great deal of collaboration, communication, trust, and commitment.   While you may believe these concepts are easy to execute upon, I have found that these are actually the most difficult hurdles to overcome.  As a Product Management & Marketing intern, it is not rare to get a great deal of constructive dissent and opinion, both from your peers and customers.  For that reason, the SVP gives you a unique opportunity to hone your negotiation, compromise, and persuasive skills often not utilized in a classroom.  If you want to get into technology, consulting, or banking, these are universal skills you will surely improve upon here. 

Second, the people here are some of the most diverse you will meet.  Before I joined SVP, I was a bit concerned about the type of people I would meet.  Often being the most boisterous and enthusiastic person, I was under the impression that I would meet only coders who were constantly dialed into their computers and headphones.   Rather, my work office is more comparable to a scene in the TV show “Workaholics.”   Heck, just last week I witnessed some of my cubicle neighbors playing table football with “Chiclets” gum as their ball of choice – smack talk included.  Beyond the fun and games, the people in Silicon Valley thus far have been nothing short of genuine and respectful.  For example, one of my managers rocks double earrings and bracelets.  Oftentimes I will ask him how his day is, only to get the response, “just tryna’ keep it real.”  Beyond the fun and games, you will quickly establish relationships with individuals and gain plenty of new perspective. 

Lastly, if you’ve made it this far in my post, I want to talk about the SVP’s expectations. First, you WILL miss your parents – their cleaning, cooking, and everything else in between.  When you live in an apartment with three other male counterparts, it can get messy quick.  All jokes aside, SVP forces you to manage your life – your priorities, your daily routines, and your schedule.  While you may get a few hours of downtime here and there, SVP will challenge you beyond a normal classroom setting.  With at least 50 hours of work during the week, 10 hours of schooling on the weekend, and at least 20 hours of homework put in (that’s what I do at least), you are looking at 80+ grueling hours a week. Despite the long hours, employers will be impressed by your commitment to excellence.   I say this not to deter you, but to set realistic expectations on what you will face.  While you will get sprinkles of fun, SVP will change your perspective and your appreciation for the little things.  Unfortunately, this IS real life, and SVP has really challenged me to become a better, stronger, and more efficient worker and person.  For that, I am grateful for this opportunity and I hope you will all consider joining the SVP in the future!

Eric Yee
CMC
Class of 2014

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