Jared Dean is a statistical guru who recently published a book on big data (“Big Data, Data Mining, and Machine Learning: Value Creation for Business leaders and Practitioners”) and is widely known as a big basketball fan who relies on analytics in picking his “March Madness” bracket.

And today he disclosed he’s left a a top spot at SAS where he was senior director of research and development to join Raleigh-based StepLeader as its chief technology officer.

So we had several questions for him, starting with the obvious:

  • Why leave such a job at the world’s largest privately held software company for a startup?

StepLeader is moving into the mobile advertising data domain at a very exciting time. There is a lot that advertisers don’t know about their mobile audiences and we see that domain having enormous potential.

  • Why leave your position at SAS for a startup? The challenge? new adventure?

SAS is a fantastic place to work with great people and a wonderful culture. I’ve learned and grown so much over the last nine years working at SAS. My position at StepLeader provides a chance to build a product and firm from the beginning. Mobile marketing is a quickly expanding domain with lots of opportunity.

  • What strengths do you believe you bring to StepLeader?

I think the primary strengths I bring to StepLeader are an understanding of statistical and machine learning techniques, years of experience working with data, and years building world class software at SAS. My years of working with demographic and geographic data during gym time at the Census Bureau us will also be an asset to the team.

  • How’d you end up doing on your March Madness forecast? 

I did better than in years past, but I still ended up loosing the family pool to my 12 year old son. Only three months until I’ll get to try again.

Note: For even the best data analysts the 2014 tournament was wild and unpredictable. Check out WRAL TechWire’s report from last March.