Collaborating Authors

Machine learning, faster


I recently gave a couple of conference presentations about how we are thinking about speed when developing machine learning systems at Monzo. This post covers some of the background to the points I was making in my talks, as well as what we're doing in the Monzo machine learning team to speed up our own work. Speed is not a word that is regularly associated with machine learning teams. When we talk and write about accomplishments in machine learning, there is often a focus on the problem, the algorithmic approach, and the results - but no mention of the time that it took to get there. I remember once speaking with a machine learning researcher who worked at a large company.

How to Identify Business Opportunities Through Big Data


At one time, Big Data was only available to the largest companies with the biggest tech budgets. With advancements in AI and machine learning, not to mention more than 20 billion connected devices poised to begin generating an avalanche of data by 2020, Big Data is no longer just for Big Business. Even the smallest of businesses are migrating to more integrated systems that can provide a more comprehensive picture of their business than ever before. Here are 4 ways Big Data can help even the smallest of businesses identify big opportunities. If you own a small bakery, you may not notice a sudden 12% increase in sales on the 3rd Thursday of every month, but your payment processing system might.

Bakery stands up to trolls over Ken doll cake


With these words, a California bakery showed its Facebook followers what acceptance looks like. Freeport Bakery in Sacramento recently fulfilled a customer's request for a birthday cake featuring a Ken doll wearing a dress. After a photograph of the cake was shared on Facebook, the bakery began receiving some serious backlash from people who said they found the cake offensive. SEE ALSO: The'We Don't Care' bathroom signs we have been waiting for In a statement on the Freeport Bakery website, owners Walter and Marlene Goetzeler explained that a slew of negative comments began to roll in after people saw the Ken doll adorned with a dress made of pink frosting, a flower sash and a tiara. They also noticed that a significant amount of people had unfollowed the bakery's Facebook page.

This South Los Angeles business is weathering the pandemic, one pie at a time

Los Angeles Times

The bakery on this bustling corner in South Los Angeles was born the year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation on public buses was unconstitutional. The sign on a lamppost tells people who walk by: "27th Street Bakery Shop; Est. Inside the bakery -- known for its homemade sweet potato pies -- are remnants of a distant past juxtaposed with modernity: a black Blodgett oven and cash registers from the 1950s sit behind a credit card chip reader; on a wall hang framed photos of awards, accolades and newspaper clippings from 1980 to 2018; two radial phones perch atop a pastry display case. And nearby and everywhere, it seems, are reminders of the all-too-present deadly virus lurking all about: plexiglass barriers surround the register; a sign below reads, "Protect Yourself and Others from COVID-19." Black-owned businesses face a system set up against them. Black-owned businesses face a system set up against them. The coronavirus-related closures hurt many small businesses. But before that, Black-owned businesses already faced hurdles in getting financing. COVID-19 has brought plenty of hardships to small businesses like this bakery on the corner of Central Avenue and 27th Street. In South L.A., business at cafes and restaurants plummeted by up to 70% by the end of March. Across the country, Black-owned businesses have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. According to a university study published in May, 41% of Black-owned businesses shut down between February and April, compared with 17% of white-owned ones. Experts attribute the disparity to less access to capital, including Paycheck Protection Program loans, a lack of support from banks and funding disparities exacerbated by the pandemic. So being around for 64 years and counting is something to be proud of. At 27th Street Bakery Shop, sales sank when 50% of the mom-and-pop shops they supplied pies to closed. Those that stayed open slashed their orders in half. Grocery store panic buying was rampant, so ingredients were hard to come by. "I remember going to three different stores in one day to look for supplies," said Jeanette Bolden-Pickens, 60, the bakery's owner. "I would wake up early in the morning and go to the store.

My Insane Adventure to Buy Snap's New Spectacles


Late last week, a Minionesque vending machine mysteriously appeared in a parking lot near Snap's original offices in Venice, California. It was named Snapbot, and it was there to sell Specs, the company's goofy new picture-taking sunglasses, for $130 a pop to anyone who got there fast enough. I'm not the only one who tried to beg and bribe LA-based friends to brave the hours-long lines for me, but to no avail. After 24 hours, the machine disappeared. On Sunday morning, Snapbot resurfaced, this time in Big Sur, the place where Snap CEO Evan Spiegel supposedly had a near-religious experience testing a prototype.