Hilary Mason

CEO and Founder, Fast Forward Labs
Data Scientist in Residence, Accel Partners
Former Chief Scientist, bitly

Making sense of big data through machine learning.

Add to Shortlist hilarymason.com @hmason


Hilary Mason is CEO and Founder of Fast Forward Labs, an independent data technology research lab. She is also Data Scientist in Residence at Accel Partners, a leading Silicon Valley venture capital firm. From 2009 to 2013, she served as Chief Scientist for bitly, the popular link-shortening service, where she continues to work as Scientist Emeritus, advising a team that studies attention on the internet in realtime.

A genuinely charming speaker who resonates with both tech and nonspecialist audiences, Hilary speaks about the challenges and the rewards of working with big data, with a special focus on machine learning.

Her work at Fast Forward Labs, which synthesises the latest breakthroughs in big data from a wide range of fields, give her a uniquely broad understanding of the field. As Hilary explains, the most exciting breakthroughs in data right now are fragmented across a wide range of isolated communities. Hackers don’t talk to academic researchers. But Hilary and her team at Fast Forward unify these disparate forms of research — so if you’ve heard of some new development and want to know how to put it into effect, no one can help you more than Hilary.

Hilary is the co-founder of HackNY, a non-profit that helps talented engineering students find their way into the startup community of creative technologists in New York City; co-host of DataGotham, an annual event for professionals involved in data science; and member of NYCResistor. She advises a number of companies, including Mortar, knod.es, collective[i], DataKind, Betaspring, and TechStars New York. She also served on Mayor Bloomberg’s Technology and Innovation Advisory Council.

Hilary is on Fast Company's 100 Most Creative People in Business 2013 and 1000 Most Creative People in Business 2014. Other honors include the TechFellows Engineering Leadership award, the Fortune 40 under 40 Ones to Watch list and the Crain’s New York Business 40 under Forty.


Data Driven

Creating a Data Culture | eBook

Hilary Mason and DJ Patil

Succeeding with data isn’t just a matter of putting Hadoop in your machine room, or hiring some physicists with crazy math skills. It requires you to develop a data culture that involves people throughout the organization. In this O’Reilly report, DJ Patil and Hilary Mason outline the steps you need to take if your company is to be truly data-driven — including the questions you should ask and the methods you should adopt.

You’ll not only learn examples of how Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook use their data, but also how Walmart, UPS, and other organizations took advantage of this resource long before the advent of Big Data. No matter how you approach it, building a data culture is the key to success in the 21st century.

You’ll explore:

  • Data scientist skills — and why every company needs a Spock
  • How the benefits of giving company-wide access to data outweigh the costs
  • Why data-driven organizations use the scientific method to explore and solve data problems
  • Key questions to help you develop a research-specific process for tackling important issues
  • What to consider when assembling your data team
  • Developing processes to keep your data team (and company) engaged
  • Choosing technologies that are powerful, support teamwork, and easy to use and learn

O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (5 Jan. 2015)


Hilary tailors each presentation to the needs of her audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest her range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

How Big Data Is Changing the Way We Work, Live, and Dream

More and more data is being generated by people engaging in everyday activities. The resulting data exhaust is an amasing source of insight about human behaviour — insights based on actual behaviours, not samples. This talk will review the evolution of big data technologies; explore why this shift is happening now; and discuss is likely to change in the near future. Mason will share stories of big data and analytics done well by different types of organisations. She will also explain practical tools and techniques attendees can consider when thinking about how to use their own data — as well as how to best use their companies' data.

Engineering Our Data-driven Future

We're seeing a shift from developing systems that generate data as a side-effect to designing products that help people make better decisions from data. Hilary explains what this means for technologists, why it's happening now, and what the opportunities look like, with examples from her work at bitly and others.

Data science

What is data science? How do you train data scientists? And how do you build data teams?

The secret life of links

What we've learned from analysis of social media data.

An introduction to machine learning algorithms for engineers


CIO Network: What's Next for Data?

Data & Superpowers, a history of Big Data

High Order Bit | Web 2.0 Summit


A US provider of self-storage units:
Thanks Hilary. You were fantastic!!! You made a somewhat boring topic so interesting and applicable to work and life. Thank you for helping to make [our] event a huge success.

The leading provider of professional development in talent management and HR software and solutions:
Hilary did a great job, audience responded well. [She] 'rocked it'.