VP of Data Science Gregor Stewart on...
How can the science of data best be used in spaces as subjective as customer experience? For Gregor Stewart, a longtime fascination with that complex question was a big reason...
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The bright lights of Candlestick Park flickered on as the sun set over San Francisco. This storied stadium — home to the 49ers for over 40 years, host to multiple World Series, and the site of the Beatles’ last concert ever — faced imminent demolition. But before being turned to dust, it hosted one final, epic showdown — one that the sporting world will never forget.
Medallia vs. Yahoo! In a game of flag football.
This defining moment was the culmination of the Silicon Valley Sports League, a 6-week competition that pitted some of the biggest names in tech against each other — in everything from flag football and ultimate frisbee to volleyball and kickball. Described as “competitive but civil” by some, the fierce battling has been described by others as downright, dirty… fun.
Throughout the summer, a rag-tag group of some 30 Medallians represented the company, facing off against friendly-foes like Square, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Box, Intuit, and GoPro. Nearly every department within Medallia was represented: a senior data scientist might catch a pass from a (fluent-in-Chinese) recruiter and then fling the frisbee to a solutions analyst (who, you know, plays the sport professionally on the side). The clear consensus among scouts was that Medallia’s squad played like a cross between the Bad News Bears and the Dallas Cowboys’ 1990’s dynasty team.
Unassuming? Maybe. Unstoppable? Yes.
And the proof was in the pudding. With significant grit, determination, and socializing with fellow competitors, Medallia emerged from the 6 weeks of competition victorious and in the league’s Top 12. Our ticket was booked to Candlestick. A night of games — across multiple sports — on the hallowed ground the likes of Willie Mays, Steve Young, and the Fab Four had graced.
At stake: one of the most prized possessions in Silicon Valley. A billboard along the 101 Highway.
Which brings us back to the flag football game against Yahoo!. Up until that point, Medallia was cruising. We won our first game in ultimate frisbee — and no one had gotten injured in the bouncy castle. Though not quite at its nearly 70,000 person capacity, Candlestick was still roaring with the cheers of fans. When Yahoo! took the field though, we knew something was different. These girls and guys were good. They were all wearing wide receiver gloves.
The Medallians on the field fought valiantly. They never gave up. They never put their heads down. And they were very polite.
But ultimately, they lost against Yahoo!’s might. And while the 101 billboard will have to wait until next year, these Medallians aren’t losers in our eyes. Instead, their secret lives have become a part of Candlestick park lore.
Until next time,
Sammie D. Kaleland