News

The tale of Lester Mackey's pursuit of the Netflix Prize

In October 2006, Netflix announced "The Netflix Prize," a $1M competition where teams of programmers raced to make the Netflix recommendation engine 10% more accurate.  The nail-biting competition is profiled in an article for Thrilllist which prominently features participant and CS alumnus Lester Mackey (Ph.D. '12), then an undergraduate at Princeton.   "It was so much fun," he said. "The contest was structured so well. We had to learn so much to be competitive and I met so many people along the way."  The winners beat the second place team by only 20 minutes.   Mackey is now a researcher at Microsoft Research New England and an adjunct professor of Statistics at Stanford University.

Two sophomores are using AI to fight fake news on Facebook

EECS sophomore Rohan Phadte and Interdisciplinary Studies major Ash Bhat have built a Messenger bot called NewsBot to help users discern whether articles are "fake news" on Facebook. Besides determining the validity of an article, it also offers a barometer that shows where an article might fit on the left-right bias spectrum, and is one of the only tools of its kind.  The idea for the algorithm first came to them during machine-learning classes.  Although it still has some bugs, they are making updates every day and the tool will improve as more users provide feedback.   "We want people to read more than just the headline. We want them to understand what the news they see says and who it's coming from." Bhat says.  Read the article on Mic.

Raghav Chandra's UrbanClap dominates India's on-demand services ecosystem

Alumnus Raghav Chandra (EECS B.S. '11) and his second start-up, UrbanClap, are the subject of a Live Mint article describing the formation and rise of the most funded start-up in the still nascent hyperlocal segment of the on-demand services sector in India.  UrbanClap, which aggregates 107 local services and 65,000 providers, and enables customers to request services online through its website or mobile application, raised $36.6M in funding during the first 2 years after its inception.  Raghav, who was active in GamesCrafters as a student, became a software engineer at Yelp and Twitter, and founded the startup Buggi, before meeting his current partners to co-found UrbanClap.

Student startup culture is in The House

A number of EECS alumni and faculty have been invited to guest lecture for a DeCal course called "Build the Future" (CS 198), designed in collaboration with startup institute The House, to get undergraduate students engaged with the Berkeley entrepreneurial ecosystem and to use their time on campus creatively.  CS majors Jimmy Liu and Zuhayeer Musa (who run a company called Bash) helped develop the course, CS Prof. Scott Shenker is the faculty advisor, and Cameron Baradar (B.S.’15 EECS) is executive director of The House.  Speakers will include CS Prof. Joe Hellerstein, EE Prof. Kurt Keutzer, co-founder of Oculus Jack McCauley (B.S.’86, EECS), and founder of inDinero Jessica Mah (B.S.’10 EECS).

Startup Trifacta gives customers an intuitive, agile new way of working with data

Trifacta, a data wrangling startup co-founded by Prof. Joe Hellerstein (also company CSO and CS alumnus--M.S. '92), is one of the companies profiled by Computer Weekly in an article titled "Silicon Valley startups aim to make big data capture and prep slicker."  Customers of Trifacta, which specializes in sorting out data and getting it into shape for analysis, includes the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Luxembourg Stock Exchange, PepsiCo, Walmart, and soon Google (Cloud Dataprep). Other CS alumni on the Trifacta team include co-founder and CXO Jeffrey Heer (B.S. '01/M.S. '04/Ph.D. '08) and Vice President of Products Wei Zheng (B.A. '99).  

Kylan Nieh makes Forbes 30 Under 30 in enterprise technology

Alumnus Kylan Nieh (CS BA/Business BS 2014) has made the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30: Enterprise Technology list.  While still a student, Kylan started his own public speaking and leadership course at the Haas School of Business and became the youngest recipient of the Business Teacher of the Year Award in 2014.  After graduation, Kylan became the youngest Senior Product Manager at LinkedIn Students.

Imperva names Roger Sippl to board of directors

Imperva has named alumnus Roger Sippl (CS BS '77 ) to its board of directors.  Sippl is a Silicon Valley software pioneer, entrepreneur and innovator.  He founded Informix Software (now part of IBM) in 1980, when he was just 24, to develop and commercialize SQL relational database software.  He subsequently took two more companies through IPO: The Vantive Corporation, which became part of PeopleSoft/Oracle, and Visigenic Software, which was acquired by Borland.  Sippl received the CS Distinguished Alumni award in 1995.

Startup: The Dot

A device and startup created by former CS students Kunal Chaudhary, Grant Empey, and Rishabh Parikh (along with ME alumus Anuj Chaudhary), are the focus of a California Magazine article titled "A Little Dotty: Berkeley Startup Has a New Way to Make Your House Smart."  Their creation, the Dot, is a $20 sandwich of circuit boards and chips housed in a black plastic case about the size and shape of a hockey puck. Functionally, it’s an electronic beacon that pairs with a smartphone via Bluetooth and can be programmed to perform a variety of functions based on where you are and who you are.  It has attracted interest from more than 1,700 donors, and is backed by two of Berkeley’s startup incubator programs, CITRIS Foundry and The House.  The Dot is also featured in an Inc.com article titled "How This University Sets Students Up for Entrepreneurial Success."

Matt Au

Matt Au is the new CTO of SideChef

EECS alumni Matt Au (B.A. CS 2002) has been announced as the Chief Technology Officer of the cooking app start-up SideChef. SideChef is an interactive step-by-step cooking app that assists in the kitchen just like a virtual sous chef. With real time recipe navigation that includes hands-free voice commands, detailed photos, how-to videos, and built-in automatic timers, beginners have the tools to learn essential skills to cook with confidence, while intermediate and advanced cooks hone their abilities and contribute to the community with their own recipes.

Cameron Baradar

Cameron Baradar opens doors to "The House"

Looking at the entrepreneurial aspirations of UC Berkeley’s students in what is often called around campus the “innovation ecosystem”, EECS alumni Cameron Baradar (B.S. ’15) has opened the doors to The House, a startup institute across the street from campus on Bancroft Ave. Currently on campus there are over 40 clubs across engineering, design and entrepreneurship, two entrepreneurship centers, a design institute, a maker space and the world’s largest collegiate hackathon. Under the mentorship of Prof. Scott Shenker, Cameron sees The House as a backbone for the emerging infrastructure providing startup founders with what they need and when they need it to be successful.