Dmitri Williams is the CEO, Sensei, and Co-Founder of Ninja Metrics, Inc. Dmitri is a 15-year veteran of games and community research, and a world-recognized leader in the science of online metrics and analysis. The author of more than 40 peer-reviewed articles on gamer psychology and large-scale data analysis, Dmitri’s work has been featured on CNN, Fox, the Economist, the New York Times, and most major news outlets. He has testified as an expert on video games and gamers before the U.S. Senate, and is a regular speaker at industry and academic conferences. Today, Dmitri helps us understand better his latest venture, Ninja Metrics and the Katana platform.
Tell us about the product or service.
Ninja Metrics is an advanced predictive analytics company and inventor of Social Value, a precise measurement of who influences others and how much that influence is worth in dollars and cents. Katana, Ninja Metrics’ predictive analytics and automated social graph analysis platform, helps online businesses and app developers improve monetization and increase conversion through the timely targeting of their most valuable, “influenceable”, and influential customers. Ninja Metrics was founded by scientists and mathematicians from the Universities of Southern California, Minnesota, Northwestern and Illinois, and is headquartered in Los Angeles.
How is it different?
Having a deep background in machine learning, AI and computational social science, the Ninja Metrics team has run the world’s leading research project in the field, the VWE Observatory, and has published over 80 peer-reviewed papers on gamers, game data and game data algorithm development. In fact, the team members founded the field of game data research, and established many of the core techniques in the industry.
With this background, Ninja Metrics brings to market the most sophisticated and powerful technology for social analytics that exists today. The development of its social analytics technology combines deep social science theories with cutting-edge machine learning to develop high-accuracy predictive models for human behavior; the research and development of the tools has lead to a number of filed patents on these technologies.
Katana uses exclusive, state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms to provide clearer insight into the health of games and applications by going beyond simple historical reporting to include the Social Value of each user. The program provides detailed projections for the outcomes, including the features, interactions and mechanics that influence the gamers or shoppers.
We’re attacking the games market, which is large and growing. Estimates range from 40 to 80bn annually. In addition, we’re now in entertainment, which is collectively much larger. The market opportunity is substantial.
What is the business model?
In gaming, we charge based on the number of monthly users in a title. Both there and in other spaces, we’ve started exploring performance-based models as well. As we see our clients leverage our technology and make a lot of money, it will start to make sense to share in the lift we generate.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We’ve processed 400M consumers to date, and we are targeting hitting 1B within the next six months. Expanding our team and our product are high on our list, and a future fundraise is always possible.
If you could be put in touch with one investor in the community who would it be and why?
It would be someone who appreciates our vision of understanding the power of human relationships. Our technology is a moon shot, not a little bit of ad tech arbitrage. Folks like Peter Thiel and Marc Andreesen have shown the ability to grok long-term disruptive technologies like ours.
What does being “Made in LA” mean to you and your company?
There are a lot of tech startups in Southern California, including folks at the Silicon Beach. It’s an exciting time to be in Los Angeles. I was a USC professor and a lot of our team were part of the USC group also located in LA so this seemed like a natural fit. Plus, living near the beach is pretty fantastic.
What else can be done to promote early stage entrepreneurship in Los Angeles?
Mid-stage funds would be useful. We have a great angel community, and only a handful of early stage investors. That middle tier step is tougher down here than in the Bay Area, and valuations are lower. There’s a great opportunity here for VCs.
What’s your favorite after work activity in Los Angeles?
I love to play live poker, and I’m lucky to live in the world’s best town for it. Between the Hustler, Bike, Commerce and many others, there is always a fun tournament.