Teleportd: Big Data Meets Social To Detect Photo-Worthy Events


This week’s LeWeb London conference gave me the opportunity to catch up with Gabriel Hubert, co-founder of French startup Teleportd. Teleportd brings sophisticated analytics to real-time social data in order to detect real-world “happenings” – including concerts, rallies, and traffic accidents.

The company sucks in over six million tweets each day, including geocoded links to photos. An “online density clustering algorithm” is used to detect regional spikes of photo activity, then hashtags and phrases are analyzed in order to find other related content. Stanislas Polu, the other company co-founder, provides more detailed information about Teleportd’s architecture in a slide presentation (in French) given at an event for Twitter developers in Paris. An API is available for developers that would like to integrate photos from events, with filters for location, time period, and search terms.

Gabriel Hubert of Teleportd
Gabriel Hubert, co-founder of Teleportd

“One of the biggest problems is determining the right baseline for detecting what’s truly unusual” explained Hubert. “We started off with a lot of false positives, such as people taking photos of Times Square or the Eiffel Tower. But as we build up our history of data and tweak our algorithms, we’re getting better at filtering out ‘normal’ activity”.

The media industry is one of the most interesting markets for the nascent technology. Once a particularly interesting event as been spotted, Teleportd automatically reaches out to photographers, enabling them to commercialize their images for distribution to more traditional media. “So far, around 25% have been willing to license their photos this way,” says Hubert.

The Teleportd blog and Facebook page highlight some of the company’s successes that have included spotting the appeal of Tupac’s hologram performance at Coachella several hours before mainstream media picked up the ball. And the company is now confident enough of its technology to unveil real-time examples of events from around the world, a service they call “Detectd

Is your business “photo worthy?”

Many businesses have taken advantage of photo-focused platforms like Instagram, Tumblr and PInterest to create blogs and post pictures of their products, but Hubert points out they should also be thinking about the photos taken by customers themselves: “Companies should make themselves more photo-worthy.” As an example, Hubert mentioned the funky packaging redesign by French retailer Monoprix which resulted in a flow of free advertising as intrigued consumers posted pictures of their products on social networks.

Reactions to LeWeb London?

Hubert is a LeWeb veteran since submitting the winning entry to a video competition to attend the Paris LeWeb event last year:

I asked him how this first LeWeb event in London compared to his previous experience:

“Le Web Paris 2011 feels like ages ago… We were then 6 months old and a team of two, and we’re now twice as old and have six people on board — it is all going way too fast! We were in the startup competition this year, which gave me a different point of view. We finished 3rd, and I’m slightly disappointed, but it was still a very fun couple of days! I wasn’t able to sit in on the panels (we were also pitching at other competition at LeWeb called ‘Tech All Stars’), but it was great to be in the presence of some great profiles from far away, and it was nice to have a downtown venue – it changes the way you can think about setting up meetings in a pub next door.”

Is France a good place for a social technology startup?

France’s elite engineering schools provide a constant source of highly-trained technologists, but the country is also known for its strict labor laws and an anti-capitalist streak. English-educated Hubert shrugs off the potential challenges, and reminds me of lot of a young Bernard Liautaud, the founder of Business Objects, one of the first and most successful “Silicon-Valley-style” French startups – and I hope he has the same success.