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Ethical Startups That Don't Monetize Your Data

Angela Benton
Chief Executive Officer at Streamlytics, Inc.
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SXSW 2021
March 18, 2021, Online, Austin, USA
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About speakers

Angela Benton
Chief Executive Officer at Streamlytics, Inc.
Anthony Ha
Vice President of Content at Eniac Ventures

Angela Benton is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Streamlytics, a next generation data intelligence ecosystem which helps everyday people and companies ethically access consumer data streams. Prior to her role at Streamlytics she founded the first accelerator for minorities globally in 2011, NewME was acquired in December 2018.To date, Ms. Benton has received numerous accolades, some of which include Goldman Sachs’ 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs, Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business and their Most Influential Women In Technology, Business Insiders’ 25 Most Influential African-Americans in Technology, ADWEEK’s 2020 Women Trailblazers, and many more. She’s been featured in numerous national and international media outlets including CNN, MSNBC, Bloomberg, Inc, Forbes, Good Morning America, and the Wall Street Journal where she was a featured essayist for the paper’s 125th Anniversary edition on The Future of Entrepreneurship.

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Anthony Ha is a senior writer at TechCrunch, where he covers media and advertising, writes the Daily Crunch newsletter, and co-hosts the Original Content podcast.

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About the talk

2021 is bringing a new focus on the importance of user privacy, with consumers becoming more and more wary of signing their data away to third parties. This shift has created new and innovative practices that work with consumers rather than insidiously against them. Angela Benton, CEO and Founder of ethical data collection company Streamlytics, talks about companies going far and beyond the basic monetization model and how doing so can create insight that is extremely valuable to brands in the new year.

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Hi, I'm Anthony hot, a senior writer with TechCrunch. And for this session, I'm really excited to be talking to Angela Benson, the CEO of Streamwood X and the topic is ethical data collection. What does that mean? Is that even you know how it, what distinguishes that from other kinds of data collection? Obviously, that's a big topic now. It is. So why don't we start with? Just the really high level question of what is ethical data collection. What makes it different from previous data collection practices. I'm so it's funny when you

talk about data, always use my kids as an example because I think it is a really good example of the importance of data were like my fourteen-year-old is like, you know, I know I have data like I should have access to my own data and it it's so different I think from where reefer Started which, you know, a lot of you know, folks like you and I Anthony, we've been in the industry for quite some time and so were used to the policies kind of being what they were send it since the Inception of the internet and what that really means is like when you sign

up for free services, they're basically using, you know, your data and how they're doing it has been like this, really like opeg thing, you know what I mean. I'm where, you know, whether it's cookie tracking, whether it's D user-level account data that's ended up being resold to their parties. So it's there's like this industry of alternative data or data brokerage is where all of your data is just basically being bought and sold. Its, it's and it's happening at a very high level think billions of dollars. And so, when you think of ethical data collection, what that

really does is it it puts you as a consumer, the data Creator into that ecosystem. Where you should also benefit from that as well, whether that's from an agency perspective and acting out and saying, I do not want you to sell my data or that it whether that's the mechanism where you can monetize, choose to monetize your your own data. It's kind of an ecosystem of services. I think that are popping up that really allow the consumer to participate in this, is it as well. And so we'll need to get more specific

kind of data sharing. Sure. So I'm what I'm doing at streamlytics is I like to use the term ecosystem, because a lot of times people use the term Marketplace and that's really, we're not real a data Marketplace. We're not really a Marketplace to monetize personal data. We are an ecosystem of products that essentially enable everyday consumers to actually upload or connect their data from a data source Osteen, you know, your your Netflix data, your your Google data on your Apple data.

And what we do from there is we have a proprietary algorithm that actually values the data on, which is a very, it's a small part but it's a big part of the broader discussion around. What what is the value of an individual State at, right? I'm right now. There's a lot of services that, you know, you'll get paid a dollar or two. And so are uses particularly around the algorithm is that your date is not worse dollar or two Actually if you know these companies are trillion-dollar companies and sell our algorithm looks at a couple of different things. The data source, not only

that, the volume of data that that you're uploading. But then also from the data source perspective, if this is a publicly traded company were, we're actually looking at things like market capitalization as well, to determine the value of the company that's being built off your data and what your data is actually worth. And so we value the data and then from there, it gets enhanced in and cleaned and we produce What's called the data stream. And so, our customers on the, on the other side, the other companies that are really at The Cutting Edge, their

Innovative. They know that, you know, this error of the cookie in web tracking is dying and they want to be at the Forefront of that from a marketing perspective. But honestly, it's even more than that, it's from a business intelligent perspective. So you know, I was actually shocked to learn. When I started streamlytics that a lot of this data wasn't readily available just because coming from technology like we we made the decisions every day. It's just kind of what we do a second nature. And so the rest of the world is is going this way as well and they want

data that's more accurate. That's ethical. That also kind of give a better view of what's actually happening. A lot of the data products that exist right now, it's kind of an old way of doing things. Meaning, it's based on a panel. It's based on like one data source. Like what you're watching on TV, for example, and that's just not what, that's not how we live. And so, do we live now, is I'm streaming something or binging something on Netflix. I'm ordering from Uber at the same time and honestly, I might be browsing from Amazon, as well. You know what I mean?

And so, what we We're doing is we are looking at a user accounts from various different perspectives and we're going to find that and someone datastream we're removing the personal identifying information. And then that kind of that Global datastream is being sold to a customer. Can you generalize it all in terms of if I'm average South by Southwest attendee, you know, probably reasonably text Savvy and active. How much is my data worth? Interesting about our consumer-facing

application culture, which focuses on the African-American Community is We have super users, just like any other consumer-facing application. So we have people that are on their legitimately like spending a lot of time, uploading and connecting data and, you know, our are making, you know, how upwards of $1,000. And then we have other people where it's kind of, you know, of passive thing and it's like $10 or $15 or a dollar if they do like one Netflix, Bible verses like uploading, you know, the whole archive

that Google gives you or the Amazon gives you or that application. You also mentioned that one of the groups are democratic groups that you are dragging. This two words are African Americans. Why did you feel like best that was the Right audience for this? Yeah, so Anthony, I'm don't you for quite some time. I think it's the first business with a blackweb 2.0. Honestly, it was like a check mark for African-Americans. And so, all I did was cover and focus on what African Americans were

Joanne. From a technology perspective level, but just from a community for such as well as technology. And so, as a result of decades, African Americans have over index in media consumption. So that's kind of. Like, that's something that we know. But then in in are, you know, culture, particularly on the internet culture. When you're looking at Pop Culture, African Americans are driving a lot of activity, when you know, Bird Box is, you know, getting a lot of you Worship On. It's

because the means that the black community is generating social media focus on this community to the community. And I think that's what we can do by leveraging, you know, individual data or providing is uniquely valuable Absolutely. And so, you know we still in our sales process, he still have some companies that we run across that are old school I guess about that are like, why are you focusing on African-American, you know, and they kind of want more of a general, a General market solution. And for me it just doesn't make sense. Even when you look at

like the global population growth, like the world, bank-imf, they put out a study, that's what the black diaspora between a lunch places to eat. That is where the global population growth is coming from. So it's on, you know, growing markets and that I should say the black community epically the diaspora is growing Market but a large majority of the people who want to work with string but it's get it honestly in. Saudis are companies that are you Being first movers and a new space. There used to be an evaders within you

know a large Enterprise and they're excited and interested and understand the value that this community has in the larger ecosystem. The community is participating in Schoenherr date is important to you, is it also important to you to sort of work with the right Partners in the sense that given that you're collecting it, even though without personally identifiable information, but you you want to find Partners, we're going to use the data in ways, they are comfortable with

learning. And so I'm really excited about. I think a lot of times when I'm talking to people about what we're doing with streamlytics, that kind of thing as heck. And that's not really what it is. I'm just be her date is at the core of everything that we do as a society right now. And so, you know what gets me most excited is the application for machine learning is so when you are looking at things like, you know, facial recognition that mistypes anafi, you know, black people, or people of Darker skin and that's largely because the training Start training on a diverse dataset.

Or when you look at, you know, things like people getting declined for a loan application, you know, it's a long time ago. I remember when I got my first car loan, like, I went into the bank, I filled out stuff on paper. I talk to a loan officer, that's not happening anymore. People are filling out 7, it's an algorithm that at least at bare minimum does that first level of training. And so now we need to start to think about and ask a question is what data wasn't algorithm trained on right? And a good example was like when Apple came out with their Apple credit

card and it was a woman in any household that applied. She got declined, her husband applied with the same information, he got approved. And do you have a sense? That how confident are you that, you know, especially those are the big players in this space, really want to make a conscious effort to change the address some of these issues. Well, we have one partner home, I can't name, but is up you know, five technology company who is doing a lot of interesting stuff which

is different than what you would typically. Think now, you know, I definitely think that there's a place for other companies. I love to see what apple is doing taking your privacy. If you don't first approach to things are so I think a lot of other technology companies are going to adopted and I'm going to adopt at the more pissed off everyday people. To be honest like people are really waking up how their data is being used and and they don't they don't like it. It's it's a it's a call it's almost it's a personal violation in a

sentence. That's interesting, cuz I had a little question I was going to ask about to what extent should people be be worried but it sounds like it to a certain extent of the phrase that you used far more memorable. He was, it was pissed off. So what is it that you think people should be pissed off about? Yeah, I think. That, you know, when we started building these applications on the internet, you know, the user experience was a little tight little bit of checks that you may or may not flip on that, click on that hyperlink. But in order to get to the

other side, you simply check the box and you go through, right? And no one's reading the terms of service at all. You don't really know what you're talking into it. So big check is like what we can use your data. You offered at, this is what you're signing up for and that's true. People are opting in but the usability of it people don't realize what they're opting in to it. So now I think people are understanding what they're hopping into and they're like they're there. Putting the pieces of the puzzle together there. Like, wait a minute, I'm using

said service, and this company is a billion dollar company. And by the way, they make money from selling my data, they were right. That they should get her, that they should get a piece of it. Or again, at bare minimum that they should be able to say, yes, you can use my data or no. You cannot use my data, especially from a perspective. You know, these phones that were walking around with every day that we know, we're attached. It's one thing to sign up for a service and Understand the user data that you're

actively submitting. It's another thing for the date of that being possibly collect it like location data in the coordinates. You know what I mean? That's completely different. So, how can, what are the ways in which both streamlytics? But potentially any other company interested in, in this space can intake what's fairly Arcane and in challenging and make it accessible to a broad audience. When someone signed up to use culture, what they're also doing is they're getting a data license. That says, hey, we're licensing the day, we don't

own this day. Yes, we're going to monetize it. Yes, this is how much you want to pay you for it. But this is your data and there are a handful of companies that are doing this. It's something that is increasingly becoming more popular. One notable company. That also does is that I was actually, I was surprised to hear but then also excited, she was Microsoft Microsoft actually provides a Gina license. They have a Jada monetization app altro that they basically allow people everyday people go to upload images or

image recognition training for, for a lot of their object image image recognition. And so and so I think, you know, we're used to thinking about the services privacy policies. I think a data license is, is a very powerful tool that okay, you know, if we know the user Behavior as you're not necessarily going to read it right? We don't necessarily it's very hard to change user Behavior. If people have been clicking that Jacquee's at this point. And so if we know that's the behavior, There's an opportunity to

put it in your face is almost at an interstitial level. And say, hey before you go to the next step distance today to Weisman for us people, also, they have to sign it. If there's a signature on file at they're acknowledging like yes, this is my data I can do with it. What I want. If I choose to delete it all I can do that. If I no longer want to use the service, I can delete my account. These are all things that I think people are starting to particularly with California consumer protection act. We're now seeing big delete my data button

and in most of our paper applications delete, you know, my account. But Yeah and I mean so to what extent do you think these changes are being driven by you know, companies wanting it you know consumers becoming more aware companies wanting to sort of make us consumers and make him feel like he's terrifying or or exploitive like surveillance companies with Mike regulation. Like you mentioned see CPA in California and GDP are in Europe you know you're going to have some companies that genuinely

want to be at the pool you know what I mean? And want to change, you know, some of their their policies. You are going to have some bad actors that are like we've made billions of dollars so far. We actually we like the way it's going. We all want to change know what I mean. So you're going to have some folks that You know that that part resonates with him but you're also going to have some people who are really scared about the pr ramifications. I think the particular lie around, you know, check the

Halo or like check instead of fading. You know what I mean? And I mean if I understand this model correctly and then you said that you don't think of it as a market place but as an ecosystem, but it still seems like it's built around the outcome of financial compensation for your data. If I'm somebody who just listen to this conversation and is just like, I hate all of this. I don't want to be involved in this kind of data collection. I want to be completely private. To what extent and in this is not so much stream of specific. But to what extent are their options out

there for the mail, where you can remove your foot, your digital footprint? I mean, is that sort of an Impossible Dream at this point. I don't think it's an Impossible Dream and there are a lot of companies that are actually working on this particularly feel like, Dares dares companies within, this new market, that's being created, that's like Community Driven data where they're legitimately to have agency over their data, take the monetization, peace apart, maybe they just are, like, I want to be private, you know,

I mean, there was a time where we were all I wasn't Angela Vincent online. I was in Alias, you know what I mean, on my end. Like I miss that sometimes, but a lot of people really want that back and so there are companies who are making it easy, you know, to be anonymous. One of the issues though that I do. See what that is really how the data structure, Don all of these different website. And so, for instance, if you would never bring one that's watching this, if you've never done a day to request,

what I call, a multi service company, so that's a company like Amazon Facebook, Google, that control multiple different Services. I definitely encourage you to do that. And once you get your data file, baggage archive, you unzip it. You can see number 1 to level 30 tell, which is important. But how unstructured organize the data is, are you as an individual consumer? You can't really actually do anything with it, not even talking about from the monetization perspective. I'm even talking about, let's say there was an entrepreneur start, you know, a business that

allowed people to easily opt-out of multiple platforms. If you're looking at it from a data perspective, the way, the data structure is completely It's actually kind of. It is very, very messy is very, very hard to you. So one of the things that we are doing with streamlytics and I think When I started telling people about what I was doing there, like, okay, they do monetization like it but it's actually a lot of really technical stuff. You know, I told you about that on the back end was he actually created a data standard, call the universal data interchange format.

And the good way to think about it is like, when Microsoft came out with that doctor, Adobe came out with that PD app, where there was a new file that organizes information is. So it's kind of neat kind of had to do it because in order for us to even be able to like reset data at all, if we have to structure and we had to organize it. And so I do think that there is a future where you want to board a plane to Miami or the Barcelona, and before you board the plane, you're going to need to be able to show him provide your covid status, or whatever

personal information that may or may not be on your phone. Or, you know, it as an independent app, but your personal data needs to be structured and a certified file. And so that's that's really the core of which we would have to try to create the standard. That presumably, you are hoping more and more companies adopt as well. I know where are you in that process to who are some of the partners that you're trying to work with on this? Yeah. So, I'm smiling because I'm getting so old but it's like I

fell by the wayside but we're actually has an open source project. And so folks that are interested can go to you this. Or we talked to some municipalities to the city of Newark. When I started, they were interested in trying to find a, a citizen friendly way to control data. Statuses versus, you know, on the phone and so people are interested in utilizing your all we really want to do is provide for it but I think it's a very interesting concept that should be a truly powerful

and new way of how individuals are transacting want to see transact. I don't need it for my monetization Sandpoint. It just might be, you might want to share a very small snippet of your data with someone for whatever purpose. And there needs to be a mechanism that allows that Do you expect that down saying that the next four years under a bite of administration? Perhaps, some will we be seeing more regulation, or do we feel like the start of the lay of the land? Is kind of said now. Yeah, fingers crossed

a country. That doesn't have a federal data privacy while we are leaders and so many aspects. And so for us to not be leaders, there is just starting to have a new Administration. There are a lot of bills that are bipartisan, you know, both on the left and the right where people are understanding like, how important data privacy is Oxfordshire. Now, everything that's happened with you, don't Robin Hood and kind of like the decentralisation of finance. And then also people understanding that, you know, as Traders their data was being Was being used on there for like, you know, order flow. So

I think people are the more real-world impact that this is happening on everyday people. I think Community citizens will start to demand from their lawmakers that we do how to pass that all data Privacy Law. One of the things that you know I I was doing online earlier in 2020, if you don't start it up I got 50,000 signatures I sent letters to every single member of Congress, including the Congressional Black Caucus, around the importance of data privacy, particularly as it

was relating to. So, I think, honestly, I kind of did it with a very intuitive thing. I was super surprised to get 50,000 signatures, but, I mean that. So, that's a lot. I mean, I have somewhat of a following on social media but it's not like, I have like a million followers, you know what I mean? So I think people are becoming very aware, just look like the important, we We need to hold people accountable and that's that means citizen but that also means people like me who also or in another technology industry that we know how important it is. That

means, you know, I don't think I have the luxury of like just trying to create a uniform company. That's not what this is about. This is about trying to create a better Society for everyone to live. And that means that, yeah, I need to take time out and I need to also be meeting with lawmakers as well as well before we go. I want to learn more about string latex or if they want to learn more about the culture rap, I wish. They'd go. You want to go to our website? If you're interested in

culture, cloture, I know it's so crazy that I owe or at Holter spelled the same way on

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