Conferences & Events

Kafka + Storm = Realtime Data at GumGum

Usually our CTO Ken Weiner never refuses to go to the usual GumGum afternoon coffee walk at 3:30. But on that day, something was fishy. He refused. When I came back I saw him salivating at the screen. I walked to his desk and he quickly pointed me to a website on his screen. Then he uttered the following words – ‘Realtime Data’!

Being an engineer at heart, I got overjoyed with the prospects of doing challenging work. The next task was to find the frameworks that would help us materialize the dream of Realtime data. We decided on Kafka, the distributed publish-subscribe messaging system, pretty quickly.

Developed by engineers at LinkedIn, the makers of Kafka believed that sequential disk access can be sometimes faster than RAM! And they designed this robust and distributed high performance publish-subscribe messaging system.

Kafka uses ZooKeeper for coordination. On the production side, one can avoid going through ZooKeeper by simply putting a load balancer in between the producer and the brokers.

That’s what we decided to do at GumGum.

At consumer side the coordination is important and hence the zookeeper consumer base is a better choice unless you have a single consumer or your own coordination system.

Kafka created multipe streams of events. Now we needed some framework to process this stream. Initially we contemplated using simple Groovy scripts to consume Kafka events. We already have a system that consumes events from Amazon SQS. A server starts 10 of these scripts (and sometimes more). But there were many issues with the system. We didn’t have a mechanism to divide code into logical blocks. Additionally,  there was no container for the scripts and there was no coordination system.

Meanwhile, we had started hearing about Storm from friends and the big data community. The very first presentation I attended at 2012 Hadoop Summit was Nathan Marz’s presentation on Storm. By then, I had started playing with Storm. The presentation was jam packed. People were already talking about storm being the next big thing in the big data world at the conference. I was sold. We decided to go for Storm.

Storm is especially designed for processing unending streams. It offers parallalized processing framework and has concept of Spouts and Bolts. Spout connects with Kafka, SQS and JMS-like systems to emit ‘Tuples’. These tuples can then be processed in one or more bolts. Each bolt is a processing unit. Bolts can be chained. You can process the tuple in a bolt and then choose to forward it in a different or the same form for the next bolt. You can chain as many bolts as you want. Since the bolt is a generic construct, you are not required to break your problem in constructs such as Map and Reduce. The best part is that Bolts offer flexible constructs for processing data. You can also do some fancy routing of the tuples with grouping and so much more.

Recently, Nathan Marz has introduced Trident – a higher level of abstraction built on top of Storm. Instead of thinking about bolts an spouts, Trident offers a higher level of abstraction that any competitor. You can have all sorts of operations such as Suming, Counting, Reducers and Aggregations, all  by using Trident. GumGum has tried one Trident Topology so far, but I would consider it as a work in progress.

GumGum is currenlty routing approximately 100 million events per day through Kafka and Storm. Our internal customers have started using real time data and the topologies, along with the Kafka cluster are pretty stable. We have a three node (m1.small) Kafka cluster and a three node (c1.xlarge) Storm cluster. Both clusters are underutilized and we have plans to use Kafka + Storm in the future.

It has become very easy to add a new topic or new consumers for the same topic. And compared to MapReduce, development with Storm is much easier than ever before. You can debug your topology by running it locally! With Map Reduce, you cannot easily debug your jobs in eclipse unless you are using Karmaspehere or a similar tool.

I gave a talk recently at Los Angeles Hadoop Users Group describing all of the above in much more detail. The audience was enthusiastic and asked lots of really interesting questions.

You can watch the video here and the slides can be found here.

You can read much more about our big data experience at my blog.

Let’s us know what you think about this big data experiment…will you give it a go? Sound off in the comments below!

TechZulu’s Silicon Beach Tech Crawl, Summer 2012

The hotbed of new-aged technology startups were on display this past Thursday in their current homeland of sunny Silicon Beach, Calif., amidst some of the stiffest competition of newcomers to hit the tech startup industry at this summer’s Tech Crawl event, hosted by TechZulu.

Stylized in the traditional staging of historic pub crawls, TechZulu’s own historic event featured nearly 400 attendees from the various participating startups spread throughout Silicon Beach. One of which was, yours truly, GumGum.

The whole GumGum team participated in this mega event and even represented the company with specially designed t-shirts displaying the company logo. Not to mention, they displayed something entirely of their own: proud and loud smiles all around.

From the crowd’s reaction, this summer’s TZ Tech Crawl event became a smash hit with all in attendance, as well as placing itself as one of the top gathering events for tech startups for years to come.

For a quick recap of Tech Zulu’s Tech Crawl summer event, read more here:

To see pics of GumGum at the event be sure to check out our Facebook page’s Tech Crawl album:

And don’t forget to check out the host company for further information and news on upcoming events:

Sound off in the comments section below, we’d love to hear from you!

The 2012 Phenomenon is 1 Year Away

Tomorrow marks a year to the day of the Mayan 2012 prophecies. A New Age interpretation of this transition is that this date marks the start of time in which Earth and its inhabitants may undergo a positive physical or spiritual transformation, and that 2012 may mark the beginning of a new era.

Others suggest that the 2012 date marks the end of the world or a similar catastrophe. Scenarios suggested for the end of the world include the arrival of the next solar maximum, or Earth’s collision with a black hole, passing asteroid or a planet called “Nibiru”.

Everyone around the web will be posting images and discussing their thoughts on this phenomenon, so make sure that your 2012 images are alt text labeled correctly for better in-image ad targeting.

Holiday Party Fun

Last night was filled with good food, drinks, conversation and cheers to an amazing 2012 at our holiday party. We dined at Caulfield’s in the Thompson Hotel in Beverly Hills.

The night started with a great speech from Ophir Tanz, CEO & founder on all our growth and successes this year. We received $7M in funding, broke new records as the Top 10 Quantcast network, grew our team 70% and moved into a new office. There’s no doubt that 2011 has been an amazing year for GumGum. We thanked Ophir for a great year with his framed cover from Entrepreneur Magazine earlier this year.

As a thank you for all the hardwork this year, Ophir gave everyone Beats by Dre headphones, in addition to a personalized gift ranging from a massage to golf to cooking supplies. Everyone was ecstatic to say the least!

We had a blast and can’t wait to see what 2012 has in-store for in-image advertising and GumGum! Here’s Ken Weiner, CTO and his wife.


Sarah Wallace, Relationship Manager and her guest for the night.

Scott Dahlgren, Senior Account Director of Sales and his wife.

Tiffany Leslie, Communications Manager and Carmel Tanaka, Office Manager.

Brennan Beyer, VP of Sales and his wife.

Keith Rives, Web Engineer and Ryan Rosario, Data Scientist.

Phil Schraeder, VP of Finance and his partner.

Patricio Mondet, Account Executive and his fiance (congrats!).

Greg Pritchard, Director of Network Development and his fiance (congrats to you too!).

Carmel Tanaka, Office Manager and her husband.

Startup News Digest

Mark Suster tells it like it is at Venture Shift in NY

Mark Suster, prolific blogger, partner at GRP and a valued GumGum advisor, spoke at last night’sVenture Shift in New York, and suffice to say, he’s not a demure fella’. You won’t want to miss this interview.

“It Is The Best Time Over The Past Decade To Be An Entrepreneur”

TechCrunch sat down with Jim Breyer at Techonomy to talk about disruptions occurring in the venture capital industry itself with the abundance of angel money and the impact that is having on traditional VC firms.

Sean Parker Thinks Silicon Valley is in Trouble

CNET sat down with Sean Parker at Techonomy. His beef: Too many angel investors are throwing way too much money–albeit in little drips–at aspiring entrepreneurs who aren’t up to the task of building a company.

The World According to Hadoop

If you missed the recent Hadoop conference, check out the SiliconAngle video coverage. Some really great interviews and insights.

Start Your Startup Engine

Two new startup incubators launched this past week. Former MySpace CEO Mike Jones (and one of GumGum’s trusted advisors) launched Science, a new startup incubator, accelerator and studio that focuses on three key areas: developing and incubating new business ideas, advising early stage startups and helping “Web 1.0″ companies reinvent themselves for the present.

Esteemed Harvard University launched the Harvard Innovation Lab is an incubator designed for startup-hungry students on campus. The i-lab, as it is known by abbreviation, began as a response to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s desire to introduce more innovation spaces Boston and Harvard’s promise to raise the next generation of startup CEOs right.

A Chat with Mike Jones on Startup Advice, LA, Myspace & AOL

You may have read about or seen GumGum at TechZulu Spotlight: LA Tech recently. It was a great night celebrating LA’s startup community. The evening ended with a much anticipated SuperDemo discussion with Amanda Coolong, TechZulu COO and Mike Jones, CEO Myspace, Angel Investor, Entrepreneur, Former CEO Userplane and Tsavo Media. There wasn’t a topic off the table. They talked about how he got into the entrepreneurial game, his advice for startups, reflection on his time at AOL and Myspace, opinion on LA’s tech scene and his next project.

Mike Jones discusses the “It” startup factor when extraordinary people meet amazing ideas.



Even Mike Jones began somewhere. Hear about his early startup days.



When should startups bootstrap? Mike Jones discusses if and when.



Mike Jones discusses the pitfalls and possibilities for LA entrepreneurs and his love for the LA tech scene.





Everyone was excited to hear about Myspace. Mike Jones talks about being the CEO of Myspace and lessons he learned.



Lastly, Mike Jone’s reflects on his time at AOL.




GumGum at TechZulu Spotlight: LA Tech

Last Thursday, GumGum was one of a handful of carefully selected companies chosen to present at the one year anniversary of Tech Zulu’s Spotlight: LA Tech at UCLA. Everyone came together to celebrate the finest in Southern California technology innovation. First to present was earbits, the first performance-based marketing platform specifically designed for the music industry. They gave a great presentation highlighting their online radio platform. Second up was Mingle, a networking service that uses location to discover and create relevant connections. Their unique iphone presentation kept us engaged. Third up was Parking in Motion, a provider of dynamic and real-time parking data. Their “Why didn’t I think of that?” service looks like it will prove very useful in the parking wars around LA and other dense cities.

GumGum came up last on the presentation roster, before one of our trusted advisors Mike Jones gave the SuperDemo. Ophir Tanz, CEO and founder, gave a compelling presentation about the in-image advertising space using in-image ad demos from our work on Bruno, Axe Bodyspray, Chevrolet Buick and Ford Mustang.



The audience had some great questions. Here’s Ophir Tanz on GumGum’s pricing model.



Ophir was then asked how GumGum understands images and how the solution differs from others.



Lastly, the audience wanted to know Ophir’s opinion on LA’s Tech scene.


GumGum’s Back from Digiday’s Digital Publishing Summit

Digiday’s Digital Publishing Summit is an invite-only networking event that functions as a sort of “state of the industry” event for online publishers and the vendors that serve them. The most recent Summit, held from October 23-26 in Bonita Springs, Florida, was “Restoring Power To The Publisher”. Our Director of Network Development, Greg Pritchard was onsite for the conference.

Since many publishers have in recent years felt technologically “outgunned” by the rapid advance of data-driven real-time bidding for online advertising, the Summit highlighted innovative ways that publishers can leverage data to build their audience and drive revenue. On Day 1, Alvin Fong of Internet Brands, a GumGum partner, explained how IB has leveraged data provider eXelate‘s solution to improve the targeting of online ad units across their network of hundreds of automotive enthusiast sites.

On day 2, we had the opportunity to present to the summit, providing attendees with an introduction to how publishers are using GumGum and in-image advertising to monetize their photos. The presentation was delivered in a fast-paced format known as “Pecha Kucha“, where the presentation must be exactly 20 slides in length and each slide appears for exactly 20 seconds. OnSwipe, a tablet website platform and Outbrain, a content promotion platform also delivered Pecha Kucha presentations during the segment, which was dubbed “Cool Tools For Publishers”. Definitely a fitting description of GumGum! The demonstration of our in-image ad unit and targeting capabilities garnered a lot of interest from the attendees, prompting thought-provoking questions from publishers as diverse as Hearst Newspapers, Federated Media, IDG Enterprise, and Gossip Center.

Coinciding with the announcement about GumGum’s Series B funding announcement, the Summit felt like a real “coming of age” moment for in-image advertising. The space has reached a major inflection point and is thoroughly socialized among major advertisers, publishers, and users. It’s clear that in-image advertising will continue to play a major role in the online advertising ecosystem in the years to come, and DPS was the perfect venue to spread the word on how publishers can drive meaningful revenue with this “cool” new ad unit.

See you in March DPS!

TechZulu Spotlight: LA Tech Selects GumGum

The moment has finally arrived!  After sending our submission for TechZulu Spotlight: LA Tech, the spotlight shines down on GumGum. We’re happy to be one of the chosen few that will be presenting at October’s event at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

For those who still might be wondering what Spotlight: LA Tech is all about, it’s a quarterly demo series highlighting the finest technology entrepreneurship in Southern California. Spotlight toasts to those who build and innovate right here in our backyard.

This Fall’s judges will include Mike Jones, LA based investor & advisor and Myspace CEO; Alex Maleki, member of New Venture Group at Idealab; Dinesh Ravishanker, CEO & co-founder of CallFire; Scott Sangster, President of Tech Coast Angels & CEO of OrganicStartup; and Avesta Rasouli, founder of CoLoft.

Most recent Spotlight startup alum include Mobile Roadie, Graphight, Smartvark, QLess, You Rock Digital, and daqri.

GumGum Wins Hottest Advertising Startup

Last night at the Siemer Silicon Beach Summit, cutting-edge startups were awarded Siemer Wavemaker Awards for innovation. Ophir Tanz, CEO and founder of GumGum accepted the Hang Ten Award for innovation in advertising. The “Cyber Guy” Kurt Knutsson infused the event with humorous and engaging hosting that included reading Ophir Tanz’s text messages for all to hear on stage. Seven different awards were given out ranging from distinction awards to industry specific awards. 28 esteemed judges included Google, Adobe, Hewlett-Packard, SoCalTech News, Burstly and dozens of others. Stand out, early-stage startup nominees included Chill, Klout, Mobile Roadie, Ranker, Cocodot, Convertro, ATMCASH, DataPop, FitOrbit, Fwix, GotCash, GraphEffect, IndieGogo, iStoryTime, Jizo, Kiip, Live Matrix,  LOUD3R, LovingEco, Miso Media, MobileCause, Postcard on the Run, Relevant Media, Talenthouse, ThinkNear, ThisNext, Viddy, Vitaportal, Wemo Media,, and YouMail.

It was an amazing night, surrounded by local changemakers and inspiring companies. Here’s a  shot of Ophir Tanz with David Siemer of Siemer & Associates after the big win: