Alternative Data Platform Thinknum Hires WSJ Writer To Boost Media Presence

Thinknum, a NY-based firm which collects and distributes alternative data, has hired a journalist from the Wall Street Journal to develop media articles based on data collected on its platform.

Joshua Fruhlinger, a WSJ features writer for seven years, joined Thinknum along with an editor, Jeremy Bloom, to generate general interest articles publicizing data from Thinknum.  The new service, found at, includes articles on tracking fitness usage through Facebook, extrapolating trends from dating apps, and using Glassdoor reviews to assess public stocks.

Thinknum offers 70 datasets and covers 400,000 public and private companies according to co-founder Justin Zhen.  The platform focuses on public data such as government contracts, product pricing data, store locations, as well as extensive social media data from sources such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

Thinknum’s clients are primarily hedge funds, but the firm also been adding sell-side clients.  The firm’s flat fee of $400 per user per month is priced to be broadly attractive across client groups.  The firm also offers a higher fee API option that is priced on a team to team basis.

The company originated in 2014 as a financial model sharing site, similar in concept to GitHub which allows programmers to share open source code.  Zhen was previously a hedge fund analyst and co-founder Gregory Ugwi worked as a strategist at Goldman Sachs.  The two met while attending Princeton University.

The firm pivoted its product focus from model sharing to gathering alternative data because hedge fund clients were asking for alternative data inputs for their models.  Thinknum was funded with an initial seed round in 2014 through the accelerator 500 Startups.  According to Zhen, the firm is profitable and growing quickly so it does not require funding.

Our Take

Thinknum’s new offering is a clever way to generate marketing attention as well as highlighting datasets available through the platform. The marketing strategy fits well with its pricing approach designed to target broad constituencies, including corporates.