#10: Jure Leskovec – Chief Scientist of Pinterest

Episode 10 — Jure Leskovec

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“If you build a company with the goal of being acquired, you will never create anything of value.” – Jure Leskovec

Jure Leskovec is the Chief Scientist of Pinterest, an $11 billion dollar company hosting over 75 billion idea “pins” from it’s 175 million monthly users worldwide. Jure originally arrived at Pinterest in 2014 when his company, Kosei, was acquired after starting a “recommendation revolution” through smarter, personalized mobile ads.

When Jure is not “turning cameras into keyboards” at Pinterest — Fast Company’s “2nd most innovative AI company” — he can also be found fulfilling his responsibilities as a:

  • Associate Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University – where his research focuses on mining and modeling large social and information networks, including relationship graphs and chain effects in online community settings
  • Investigator at the Chan-Zuckerberg Biohub – a multidisciplinary research organization on a mission to make all diseases preventable, manageable or curable by the year 2100

Some favorite topics we covered include:

  • How being Pinterest’s Chief Data Scientist has affected his own social media use
  • The story behind how he went from party conversation about Kosei to company acquisition by Pinterest in just 2 months
  • How Pinterest makes recommendations to it’s users and thinks about the explore vs. exploit tradeoff of social media ads
  • Moral considerations of echo chambers/filter bubbles/confirmation bias that he and his team take into account when serving Pinterest’s 200+ million users content each day
  • Balancing short and long-term benefits at the individual (value to user), community (health of the content ecosystem), & company (ad revenue) level
  • Recent research from Harvard, Stanford, UChicago, & Cornell investigating how machine learning can help criminal court judges make high-stake decisions

This turned out to be one of my most fascinating conversations yet, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Show Notes: https://ajgoldstein.com/podcast/ep10/

Jure’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/jure?lang=en

AJ’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/ajgoldstein393/

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Enjoy!