Meet The Nerds
We're proud of the team we've assembled at TR, which consists of both full-time and part-time contributors. Although we all live and work in different cities across the U.S., we share a passion for working hard, building great products, and having fun doing it. Just as importantly, we don't take ourselves too seriously – unless the conversation turns to Boston pizza, in which case our views are fiercely divided and fisticuffs may ensue.
Tom’s interest in the statistical side of sports sprouted back in the late 1980s, when he spent his weekends as a Strat-O-Matic Fanatic and his nights trying to get Euler to pitch a perfect game on the Commodore 64. After ditching the frigid climes of Boston for sunny California, he earned a BS and MS in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford.
Serving as a Resident Assistant in Branner Hall during his junior year, Tom’s job was to discourage unsupervised 18 year olds, including Mike Greenfield and Matt Koidin, from engaging in Animal House style behavior. Mike was not a problem.
After working in product and marketing roles at a Silicon Valley startup, Capital One Financial, and Stanford Business School, Tom was looking to do something more entrepreneurial when he ran into Mike outside the Palo Alto post office one sunny day in late 2004. He soon asked the fateful question, “So whatever happened to that sports web site of yours?”
Tom now runs the day to day operations of TeamRankings. Although he does a little bit of everything (except writing code, although learning SQL is on his to-do list), he is primarily responsible for product strategy, business development, marketing, and building the team.
Co-Founder, Adviser, Analytics
Mike started building quantitative sports power ratings in 1997 at the tender age of 19. After teaching himself enough about computer programming to build a basic web site, he launched the original TeamRankings.com from his Stanford dorm room in 2000. The site set a new standard in incredibly slick web design.
Back when the term "Moneyball" was still just a twinkle in Michael Lewis' eye, Mike’s objective ratings and analysis quickly achieved national prominence, especially in college basketball. In March 2001, Sports Illustrated profiled Mike in a feature on March Madness bracket picking.
After a numbers-obsessed youth in which he memorized 36 significant digits of Pi, Mike broke West from Philadelphia to earn a BS degree in Mathematical and Computational Science from Stanford. In his career outside of TeamRankings, he has played key analytical roles at PayPal and LinkedIn, co-founded two VC-funded startups, and served as Growth Hacker-In-Residence at business accelerator 500Startups.
Today, Mike primarily advises TR in the areas of analytics and strategy, but occasionally still gets his hands dirty with analytical or coding work, especially if it involves the NCAA tournament. Despite clearly being wrong, he also insists you call the third-to-last round the "Crazy Eight."
Analytics, Coding, Blogging
David's earliest nerd cred, besides an irrational love for sweat pants, was mastering ten key typing in the sixth grade. This proficiency developed because he, like Tom, was a Hardball aficionado, although David had the far superior PC version. David spent a good portion of his youth entering custom baseball player stats into the game with his brother, until a further epiphany – winning his Dad’s NCAA tournament bracket pool at age 12 – made him realize that you could actually make money via sports knowledge.
After undergrad years at Johns Hopkins, David went on to earn his MS in neuroscience at NYU, during which time he co-founded the now defunct HackTheBracket.com. While working as a data analyst for tech company Inuvo, he then started the college basketball blog The Audacity Of Hoops in his spare time, where his hidden agenda was to use numbers to prove that the Kansas Jayhawks were, are, and forever will be the best college basketball team in the universe. His blogging caught the eye of the TeamRankings crew, who happened to make contact with him just after a cross-country move.
Today, David is a quantitative and technical jack of all trades at TR, writing code for the site and our various analytical products, building and refining data models, doing ad-hoc analyses, answering questions about office pool strategy, and blogging. We have yet to find a sports prediction contest for money (or burritos) that David is not interested in playing against the rest of us, and it is almost always -EV to compete against him.
Like Tom, Matt, and Mike, Jon is yet another East Coaster – apparently the fear of cold brings us together. He grew up in New Hampshire, and as a die-hard Celtics fan in the Bird/McHale/Parish era, he once cut out every Celtics article appearing in the Boston Globe for an entire year and hung them all on the wall of his bedroom.
Jon also made his way to The Golden State for college, earning a BA in Psychology at Stanford. There, his illustrious collegiate sports career consisted of playing on the women’s basketball team practice squad, a brief stint on the club table tennis team, and possibly the shortest tenure ever as a cross country walk-on (it can be measured in hours). Jon later picked up a Master’s degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason, so when he’s not doing technical work, he's deftly diffusing any escalating tensions that arise from internal discussions about Boston pizza.
At some point during a college reunion pickup basketball game (fun fact: Jon's vertical leap is off the charts), Tom was surprised to learn that Jon had shifted from his fuzzy academic training to become a front-end coder. After a few years of freelance work for TR, Jon came on board as a full time developer, and today he works to improve the site experience for all of our visitors.
Partner, Technical Adviser, Coding
Matt was the first actual hard core sports fan on the TR team. While his peers are geeking out over prediction model hypothesis testing and optimization, Matt somehow finds the time to do strange things like read ESPN and attend sporting events for fun. He even knows the players the Patriots drafted this year and who pitched for the Red Sox last night. Perhaps his biggest badge of sports fan honor, though, is the fact that he plays in five fantasy football leagues, which is exactly five more than the rest of us play in.
Like Tom, Matt fled the Boston suburbs for Palo Alto, although over the years he has done a much better job of maintaining his Beantown sports cred. After graduating from Stanford with a BS in Computer Science, Matt co-founded Justarrive, the first e-ticketing platform for college and professional sports teams. He went on to earn his MBA from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, then served as a Manager in the Strategy and Operations group of Deloitte Consulting. He became TR's first CTO in 2008, and worked full-time until 2011.
Today, Matt advises Team Rankings on technical architecture decisions, manages our server infrastructure, and contributes to a variety of coding projects on nights and weekends. Outside of TR, he is CTO at Pocket, a platform for storing and sharing content between the web and consumer devices.
Analytics, Coding, Blogging
Growing up as a child of the BCS era and living ten minutes from Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Austin spent his formative years calculating BCS formulas for college football. He played some basketball in high school and even won back to back “most improved” awards on the swim team, yet still could not crack the varsity lineup.
With his hopes for the Olympics dashed, Austin detoured to Palo Alto to study physics at Stanford (sensing a theme here?). Like Jon, he took his beatings as a member of the women's basketball team practice squad, then returned to his Midwestern sensibilities by picking up an MS in Aerospace Engineering at Purdue. That move also afforded him the opportunity to frequent McDonald's, Arby's, Taco Bell, and the rest of his beloved fast food establishments without getting the evil eye from health conscious Californians.
When he took a class entitled “The Math of Sports” during his sophomore year, Austin decided the time had come to create a team power ratings system of his own. A year later, he traveled to Boston to attend the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. There he met the TeamRankings crew, who could not believe that a college junior had paid his own way across the country to attend a conference on sports stats.
That chance meeting kicked off Austin's four-year run as TR's intern extraordinaire, during which he designed and tested a new predictive ratings system, coded simulation models for office pool picks and season projections, and did ad-hoc blogging and analysis – all while going to school, watching lots of NBA and secretly rooting for his hometown Hawkeyes over the Cardinal.