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Signal To Power

Analytics is reported to be a $125 billion market and it has become part of standard practice for many businesses to use analytics, big data and business intelligence to make decisions.

There are many analytics startups in the current market, including Mixpanel and Percolate, both which use metrics that measure engagement with the user, with the latter being a hybrid of marketing analytics + company communications platform.

The two that stand out in the UK are Growth Intelligence, a startup that uses predictive analytics to match companies with potential clients and Signal, a one-source resource for newsfeeds and market analytics platform that analyses over 3 million news sources daily. Signal's current clients include Index Ventures, British Transport Police and my celebrity crush, Jamie Oliver

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Jamie Oliver, who started his career as the Naked Chef on the BBC, is now a recognisable, international brand with a strong social media presence, and is also one of Signal's clients. 

I first had a conversation with David Benigson (CEO, Co-Founder of Signal) over the summer and he explained how Signal builds different user cases based on competitive benchmarking and market intelligence and research to build a valuable product. Signal ingests millions of documents per day in batches of 2000 and 5000 per second, to push data in real time which then goes through text analytics, metadata recognition to machine analysis to populate the elastic text cluster. Instead of focusing on specific patented algos- Signal uses, what I extrapolate is a mixed module application that depends upon combinations of ten-thousands different algos to create a news feed specficially tailored to the user. For the last few weeks, I have been testing the Signal platform and I think what makes Signal competitive is its ability to integrate different sorts of news media (including blogs) to make it a one-stop-newsource or virtual newstand that automatically filters my preferences and potentially integrate paywalls from different news organisations, so that I only need to login to one site on any mobile or desktop device. One minor irritating aspect of the internet generation is having to login to 20 different sites to be able to read the latest articles I want to glimpse through. Signal currently has a partnership with lexisnexis and NLA for premium access, and I think what will make the platform even more competitive is integration with all news organisations.

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Signal also uses metadata to create data visualisation based on a number of different metrics and has in its system, colour coded graphics to be able to analyse news feeds across different sectors.

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Whilst testing the Signal platform, Louis Cointepas at Signal had been guiding me through various features in addition to giving me a sneak peek of new features that will be added at the end of the month. One desired feature I put on my wish-list was the ability to be able to search from different languages, particularly in French, as I am an avid reader of French publications, and would be interesting to explore different bloggers from French speaking regions that could come up to me as possible suggestions.

Apparently, I am not the only one who thinks Signal is a great platform because during the last few weeks that I had been testing out its features, Facebook had coincidentally launched Signal for Facebook and Instagram, a curated news feed that looks almost exactly like the curated news feed at Signal.

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Facebook's "Signal" for Facebook and Instagram, has a striking resemblance to's platform

This isn't a first for Facebook, as it had attempted to clone other apps previously, including the Snapchat clones Poke and Slingshot, that could be potential violations of Snapchat patents. 

Coincidentally, David (CEO, Signal) has a background in IP law and briefly explained over the summer that technology patents can be incredibly hard to litigate in addition to being time consuming as patent violations are difficult to uphold in the UK. If we recall the Apple vs. Samsung patent wars just a couple of years ago, Apple's case against Samsung was upheld in US Courts, but not in UK courts. In addition, Apple had been ordered by UK courts to list an apology to Samsung on its UK website: Samsung did not violate any patents. In comparison, in the US, Apple has won every single round against Samsung for patent infringement and the last judgement, just a month ago, barred Samsung from using certain phone features that violated Apple's patents

Therefore, one could make the argument that clearly, Facebook's cloning of Signal could potentially be a patent violation if Signal possesses the US patents to its own platform. However, when I mentioned this briefly to Louis, he said:

"Imitation is the best form of flattery, and this type of matter can be a real burden to pursue; besides we are a fast-growing startup and we want to create relationships by working together with different companies to produce meaningful and lasting partnerships, and not to follow on the destructive path of patent wars." -Louis Cointepas, Signal

Indeed. Perhaps the UK is more sensible in regards to litigation as opposed to its red-headed stepchild, the US, where we are more apt to litigate for any sort of perceived violation or potential wrong-doing. However, as an American, I'm more sceptical of Facebook's motivations, and I'll be curious to see what happens as Signal, one of UK's top emerging startups, crosses the Atlantic into the US after they move into the start of their Series A funding this winter.