Our CityZen’s Exchange with Abraham Thomas

Ahmed Badruddin

Ahmed Badruddin

In the dynamic landscape of data, the imperative of continuous learning & progress cannot be overstated.. Today, I’m thrilled to share some key takeaways from our recent CityZen’s Exchange or CZX as we call it internally (given our love for acronyms!).

Citylitics - Yannish Sewrage and Abraham Thomas
Yannish Sewraz and Abraham Thomas at Citylitics’ recent CityZen’s Exchange

CZX stands out as a unique monthly event within Citylitics. Diverging from Monthly All Hands, which centers around company progress against our growth plan, wins, challenges, and key focus areas forwards, CZX serves as a platform where our dedicated CityZens share their key learnings and insights from their projects. It provides a forum where the spotlight is on our incredible team, offering an opportunity for individual growth and collective knowledge enrichment.

One of our core values at Citylitics is “Raise the Bar”. A couple of months ago, Angie Anderson, our brilliant Demand Gen leader, posed a question that raised the bar for our CZX. “Why not have members of our Board or shareholders present at CZX?” We loved the idea, and that’s how we had the privilege of hosting Abraham Thomas in our office for an insightful fireside chat.

Abraham is one of the best minds in the world of data. He founded Quandl, which eventually became Nasdaq Data Link after Nasdaq acquired his company. Abraham is not just a seasoned entrepreneur; he’s also a Citylitics investor and a trusted source of advice and insights. His journey in the realm of data is both fascinating and instructive, making him an ideal guest for our CZX fireside chat.

Let’s delve into the top five insights gleaned from this memorable CZX:

  1. From ‘Strategic Advantage’ to ‘Table-Stakes’: Abraham expressed that the ultimate goal for every data company is to transition from being a ‘strategic advantage’ to becoming ‘table-stakes.’ This sentiment deeply resonates with our journey at Citylitics, where our aim is to make our platform integral to the infrastructure industry, positioning access to our data as a condition for success.
  2. Origins of Alternative Data: Under Abraham’s leadership, Quandl coined the term “Alternative Data” and pioneered the category. The narrative of their response to hedge fund customers seeking unconventional indicators for a competitive edge is truly inspiring. For instance, the innovative use of satellite images of mall parking lots to forecast economic activity exemplifies what makes a scale-up a special place to work, where the transformation from raw ideas to industry impact can happen within a matter of years.
  3. The Intersection Between What’s Valuable and What’s Possible: In the expansive landscape of data, Abraham underscored the critical skill of finding the intersection between what’s possible and what’s valuable. For our young and ambitious CityZens, this serves as invaluable career advice in a world where technical expertise meets user and customer needs.
  4. The Power of Being a ‘Dual Threat’: Abraham shed light on the concept of being a ‘dual threat’—individuals who possess both deep knowledge of data problems and technical data skills, coupled with business acumen and subject matter expertise. This intersection is where innovation thrives, though, as he noted, it is challenging to develop.
  5. Navigating the GenAI Frontier: Given our excitement about GenAI, we couldn’t resist asking Abraham for his thoughts. While predicting the future in this rapidly changing space is challenging, he emphasized the significance of curated datasets integrated into customer workflows as a shifting competitive advantage. Explore further insights in a blog he wrote about “Data in the Age of AI

Thank you, Abraham, for sharing your wisdom, and thank you, CityZens, for your passion and dedication. Let’s continue to unlock value and impact as we ride the wave of data, AI and technology together.

Looking forward to the next CZX!

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