Jeff Ma – Making Decisions with Data – [Invest Like the Best, EP.151]

My guest this week is Jeff Ma. Jeff was on the famous MIT Blackjack team from the book Bringing Down the House but has spent his career in an around fields of analytics and data science. He’s studied sports betting and analytics, built companies for analyzing human capital, and ran the data science and analytics group at Twitter. You can find links to his book and podcast in the show notes.

Our discussion is about a number of fascinating ways data is being used to make decisions in the worlds of sports and business. Please enjoy!

Show Notes

1:20 – (First Question) – How quantitative analytics have evolved in sports and how they’re being used

4:26 – Best role of humans in the analysis process

8:38 – Sports that are most interesting to observe through analytics

10:26 – How does luck play into sports analysis

11:54 – Team analytics vs better analytics

12:38 – Concentration of success among sports betters and their moats

14:58 – Favorite lessons learned from professional gamblers

16:45 – How analytics got introduced into gambling

19:21 – Understanding one’s own biases

24:04 – How he became VP of analytics at Twitter

28:37 – Primary lessons from the work evaluating human capital and talent with analytics

            28:59 – Niel Roberson Podcast Episode

31:40 – How to model people for success when hiring

33:29 – How to hire the right data scientists’ team

37:54 – Most interesting problems they tackled at twitter

42:31 – Responsibility of social platforms to police itself

45:34 – Areas that would interest him in the future as an investor

49:24 – Kindest thing anyone has done for Jeff

51:50 – Values instilled in him by his parents.