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Project Ripple

I was approached by a venture capital firm interested in improving their sourcing by using targeting marketing people who were more likely to be interested in their services. Besides the actual companies they are funding, many VCs have a preference in either the demeanor or “soft skills” or even values exhibited by the individual or team. How do you figure this out without meeting them? Is it possible to assess fit (in any circumstance) between two parties in a systematic way without meeting the person?

With the plethora of data out there, this should seem like an easy problem. You can easily look through someone’s LinkedIn to get an idea of their academic and professional accomplishments and skills. But how do you assess someone’s values and what they stand for? Outside of someone starting a non-profit targeted towards whatever social ills they believe in, it may be hard to tell. Facebook? You can do it manually, if you have access to the person’s profile, but how would you automate it? Sentiment analysis and contextual photo analysis might work.. but again there is the privacy issue.

I found that Twitter is the solution, sort of. Twitter is an open network, so you can see any activity a person has (tweets, following/followed by) aside from direct messages. Using this, we can infer on a general basis, a person’s general value leanings. Basically, if you follow enough people within a cluster of known values (e.g., lots of social activists), then you probably care about social activism.