Rhiza Blog Blog

Pittsburgh Business Times Names Rhiza Fifth Fastest Growing Tech Company

pgh100-logo-smallAt an award ceremony tonight at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne Club, Rhiza was named by the Pittsburgh Business Times the fifth fastest growing technology company in western Pennsylvania. The award, accepted by Rhiza’s CEO, Josh Knauer, was given by the Pittsburgh Business Times during their Pittsburgh 100 Awards, an annual ranking that recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in western Pennsylvania. It’s interesting to note that Rhiza was the only technology company in the list that has achieved its growth numbers without any outside investment.

Rhiza named Tech 50 and Pittsburgh 100 finalist for second year in a row

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Rhiza is proud to announce that we are a finalist for the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s Tech 50 award. The award honors southwestern Pennsylvania’s most successful and innovative technology companies. Winners will be announced on October 10 at the Tech 50 event. For more information on the event, visit the Pittsburgh Technology Council.

pgh100-logo-smallAnd, since we’re already in bragging mode, we might as well mention we also made the Pittsburgh 100 list this year too. The Pittsburgh 100 list is published every year by the Pittsburgh Business Times, ranking the region’s fastest growing companies. The final rankings will be announced at an award ceremony on August 22, 2013 and released by the paper the following day.

Wish us luck. We love winning awards!

Data Visualization Contest Winners

We had some great entries into our Data Visualization Contest and we are pleased to announce the winners. We saw some great examples of interactive data displays and plenty of creativity.

Below are our winners. Congratulations to them all!

1st Place: “Movie Night” by Parker Bossier, Jenn Tran, Michelle Lew, John Rogers and Min Zhao

2nd Place: “IMDB Top 250 Data Visualizer” by Nathan Hamal

3rd Place: “Fare Atlas” by David W. Lenkner

Honorable Mention: “College Expenses” by Alexandra Pasula

Please give our winners a great big round of applause, while we distribute their fabulous prizes!

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Working from Home

My couch

I wrote the first draft of this post while working from home with a sick kid. This is my couch with two laptops and two iPads for coding and testing.

 

There has been a lot said in the media the last few months about working from home, especially with Yahoo’s new policy banning the practice.  It’s a perk that we have at Rhiza that we apply on a case-by-case basis.

A lot of the policies we enact are there because human capital is any tech company’s biggest asset. Sure, it’s possible to document as much as possible, but at least some of the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of a software company is tied up in actual human brains, and it’s valuable to be able to access that quickly when something goes wrong. So, we spend a lot of time trying to hire the right people and then keep them for as long as possible.

I went back to work two weeks after having my daughter, mostly because I could. I was given the standard Rhiza maternity leave of six weeks, which I could use in whatever increment I needed instead of taking it all in one lump sum. I managed to stretch it out until she was three months old. From the age of three to six months I worked full time with the kid at my side.

This is a perk that is available to everyone in the company and something that has sustained me as a fiercely loyal employee. I know it won’t work for everyone, but in an industry where skills go stale faster than a loaf of bread, it kept me plugged in to my workplace without having to sacrifice bonding with my daughter. Plus, it was cheap to implement and it works with our corporate culture.I can understand the need for face time in the office, and it’s debatable whether working from home adds or subtracts from productivity.

However, working from home can be a real life-line that minimizes worker turnover and stress. And it’s something that doesn’t just apply to parental responsibilities. We have one employee whose commute just lengthened to an unsustainable level. He works from home a few days a week and we all get to share in that two hours that he is not sitting in his car.

So, I really can’t talk about how this is going to work at Yahoo and whether this is going to turn anything around, but I can say that workplace flexibility and our other work-life balance policies are pretty vital to our strategy for competing for talented workers. I fight Google and other big name tech companies *every day* for engineers.  It’s crucial to have as many tools as I can for selling our workplace.

Contest Entries Due Tonight at Midnight EST

We’re wrapping up our Data Visualization contest and invite everyone to submit their entries by Midnight tonight on the East Coast.  Everyone at Rhiza is really looking forward to exploring all of the submissions.

Further contest details can be found on our contest page.

Good luck, everyone!

The pressure is on, guys!

The pressure is on!

Rhiza Data Visualization Contest Deadline is April 1st

Rhiza is running a Data Visualization contest right now, one with fabulous cash prizes.  Our goal is to meet new people, get new people to meet us, and get exposed to new ideas about data.  We already have entries and we’re excited to see what people put together.

SEE HERE FOR MORE CONTEST INFORMATION

However, we’re still promoting the contest, so we’re going to move the deadline back to April 1st so that everyone has two more weekends to perfect their entries.  In a happy coincidence, April 1st is also our Rhiza-versary, the day that we officially became a company! We’re going to be five years old!  So, either way it is going to be a fun day.

For those of you interested in entering the contest, here are a few free data sources to help you get started:

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics – The BLS has tons of data on prices, inflation and employment.  We’ve used monthly county-level employment in several of our visualization tools.
  • The Twitter Rest API – Twitter is constantly churning out data.  You can look at just one feed or everything at once.  We’ve used the twitter api to map people’s locations, track what people are talking about, and look at what languages are being tweeted.  I use twitter personally for data collection.
  • National Agricultural Statistics Service – This database has tons of data about farming, animals, and crops projected down to the zip code and county level.  Ever wanted to know where all the ostrich cultivation is happening in the US?  This database will tell you.
A fine bovine and data source

A fine bovine and data source

 

Good luck!  We look forward to seeing what you can do!

Why I’ll Never be Hangry Again

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Rhiza moved from the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh to Pittsburgh’s Shadyside a few months ago and for the first time we had an unshared office space.  At first I grumbled about the diminished availability of fast, cheap lunches, but gradually our fully stocked kitchen has replaced fast-food sushi and noodles in my heart.  Each Tuesday we walk over to the neighborhood fancy-pants grocery store and walk back with the food that we’ll eat that week… all paid for by Rhiza.  If we run out of something, someone eventually walks over to the store and replaces it.

The stocked kitchen is my favorite perk ever.  It keeps all of us fed with exactly what we like to eat.

When we get together as a company sometimes we talk about being a “Healthy Lifestyle Company”.  But after years working here I’m still not sure that fits exactly.  I’m not sure what “healthy” means in that context?  We definitely do not go to the gym together, plenty of cookies come back from the store with us, and no one makes us eat our vegetables.

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Maybe it’s that in an industry of excess when it comes to working hours, we dwell in the “sane” end of the spectrum and that’s what we mean by healthy.  However, I don’t know if we should be bragging that we don’t burn out our workers and let them spend time with their families; that’s what everyone should be doing by default.

Instead, I think Rhiza is more suited to be a “Quality Lifestyle Company”.

My working hours are usually dictated by my daughter’s school schedule, so I’d rather work as efficiently as possible and take the minimum amount of time away from my desk.  I know that there is going to be good, delicious, (often) healthy food in the office fridge that is there when I want it.  And when I’m lost in programming, but hungry, I know I can keep the ten things I need to remember in my head while I take a few seconds to grab an orange or some almonds to keep me from falling over.  If I don’t have time for breakfast there will be Greek yogurt or oatmeal that I can eat while going over my email.  Finally, I don’t spend any extra time or money shopping for my lunch foods outside of work.

And that’s what I mean by quality.  Rhiza does little things that make my life as a worker (and also human being who likes food) better.  At this point in my life time means everything.  If I can save time in the mornings, or get more done during the workday, or not have to run back home because I forgot my lunch then these are things that make my life perceptibly better.

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In exchange, Rhiza gets better worker output during the workday as well as people better engaged in the workplace rather than walking around hangry (= hungry/angry [guilty!]) at about 2:30 in the afternoon.  Plus, you get a good amount of employee morale for not that much money per person every week.  Evidence: I am writing this blog post unsolicited, though it is a good excuse to post pictures of my lunches online.

Are you interested in having lunch with us?  Rhiza is hiring!

Rhiza CEO to be Keynote Speaker at Carnegie Mellon Event

Josh Knauer, Rhiza’s CEO, will be the keynote speaker at a Carnegie Mellon University event that is intended to help inspire students and alumni to build their careers by featuring alumni “who have successfully and interestingly navigated their way forward.” The event is titled Under Construction: Building Your Future and happens this Saturday, February 23rd. Read more about the event.

Rhiza Featured in Pittsburgh Region Hiring Outlook Story

pgh-biztimesThe Pittsburgh Business Times recently published an article about the region’s positive hiring outlook in 2013. In the article, they featured Rhiza as one of the growing software companies that is looking to hire quite a few people in 2013.

We’re feeling quite confident about both our company’s growth in 2013, but also the broader economy. All of the data we’ve seen is pointing to a strengthening economy and increased demand for highly skilled employees, such as software engineers and interaction designers. If you know of someone who would be a fit for our team that can help fill some of our open positions please let us know!

Read the full story on their website (paid access) or download a PDF version.

Introducing Rhiza Analytics

As we welcome the new year, we also welcome the official launch of Rhiza Analytics.

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Robust, yet easy to use, Rhiza Analytics handles big data with ease, providing quick answers to complex questions with stunning visuals and elegant reports. Rhiza Analytics provides deep customer insights and clear recommendations for a variety of industries, with an early focus on helping media companies sell more targeted advertising.

Offered as Software as a Service, Rhiza Analytics can be deployed in weeks, not months and brings data together from all of your public, syndicated and enterprise sources to produce dynamic, actionable reports that are tailored to your business workflow.

Please take a look around our new website and let us know what you think.

From all of us at Rhiza, we wish you a very happy new year!

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