Wesley Tansey, a UTCS Graduate Student, was selected as a 2014 KPCB Engineering Fellow. This is the third year for the KPCB Engineering Fellows program with almost 2500 applicants from over 200 universities. Throught the KPCB Fellows Program, Wesley will have an opportunity to gain significant experience working on uniquely challenging technical, design and product problems while also developing new relationships that are meaningful to his career. He will also attend private events hosted by portfolio companies where he can meet talented engineering and design icons from across Silicon Valley. Wesley will be working with MyFitnessPal this summer.
When asked about his experience with the selection process, Wesley took us back to October 2013 when he had just met the MyFitnessPal team. Vijay, their VP of engineering, saw a post that Wesley made on Hacker News about his Ph.D. research, which looks at the effects of diet on chronic illness. Vijay thought there could be an opportunity there to collaborate. Since then, the MyFitnessPal team has grown at a rapid pace—from around 20 people in October to over 60 at the moment. Wesley spent this spring break in San Francisco working out of their offices to do some initial data preparation for the summer.
Specifically, Wesley will be working on modeling users and making recommendations. The goal is to understand which diets people are following, how those diets change over time, which diets work and which lead to people quitting, and how MyFitnessPal can make suggestions to people to help them reach their weight loss goals. These are challenging problems and will require a lot of cutting-edge machine learning techniques. With over 50 million users, the potential for impact is huge. MyFitnessPal could potentially help people to lose just 1 more pound on average.
It's also the first time the team will have a chance to really understand dieting with a large population of users. Most nutritional studies are either a small sample size (e.g. 10 people who each log their exact diets every day) or use simplified surveys (e.g. a questionnaire sent to 60,000 people will ask how much fish people eat on average every day). At MyFitnessPal, the team can actually look and see—at a fine grained level—what MILLIONS of people are eating every single day. It's an awesome opportunity to discover new scientific knowledge by leveraging this huge dataset that was only made feasible in the last couple of years.
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) has backed entrepreneurs in more than 700 ventures leading to nearly 200 IPOs, over 375,000 jobs and a deep strategic network. The firm has partnered with pioneering companies like Align, Amazon, Electronic Arts, Genentech, Genomic Health, Google, Intuit, Juniper Networks, Netscape, Symantec, VeriSign and WebMD. KPCB partners serve on the boards of Amazon, Apple, Bloom Energy, Flipboard, Foundation Medicine, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Nest, Square, Tesaro, Twitter and Zynga, among others. KPCB accelerates the success of entrepreneurs with a team of partners delivering company-building services including strategy, operational scaling, recruiting, business development, product delivery and marketing communications. The firm invests in all stages from seed and incubation to growth companies. KPCB operates from offices in Menlo Park, San Francisco, Shanghai and Beijing. For more information, visit:http://www.kpcb.com.