Wednesday 25 March 2015

What do, the ICIJ and Swissleaks have in common?

That would be Neo4j.

Here's a wonderful interview that I did with Jean Villedieu, one of the founding fathers of Another great conversation, in which I learned how helped the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) uncover the most important secrets of the one of the world's largest banking corporations. Super fascinating stuff. Listen here:

Here's the transcript of our conversation:
RVB: Hello everyone. My name is Rik and here we are again, recording another episode of our Neo4j graph database podcast. And today, we're doing another remote session with Jean Villedieu from Linkurious. Jean is in France today. I'm here in cloudy Antwerp. Welcome Jean. 
JV: Hello Rik. Thank you very much for inviting me to the podcast. 
RVB: Absolutely. Yeah. It's great. So Jean, like always, we have three parts in this podcast and I'd really like you to introduce yourself a little bit to our listeners. 
JV: Sure. My name is Jean Villedieu and I am one of the co-founders of Linkurious. At Linkurious, I'm in charge of sales and marketing and Linkurious is a French startup, based in Paris. Founded three years ago and we specialize in graph visualization. What that means is that we have software that runs on top of Neo4j and that provides Neo4j users a nice interface with which they can browse their data, explore it visually and extract information that's within their graph. 
RVB: So Linkurious is a product that people can buy, right? 
JV: Exactly. You can visit the website at where you can find more information about our products, and you can buy and download it. 
RVB: But it's also an open source part as I understand it, right? There's a part of it that's open source? 
JV: Actually, it's a good question. We recently released Linkurious.js, a graph visualization library, and it has a dual license with a open source license and a commercial one. You can find more information about that on Github and on a website which is actually going to be updated in a few days or weeks. 
RVB: Super. Well, like any open source tool, it's great that you can explore it and have the community look at the internals but at the same time, there needs to be business model for it to survive right? So, we're on the same page there. 
RVB: Jean, really the next question for me is, what attracted you guys to graphs? Why do you love graphs so much and how did you get into it? Could you give us a little bit more insight there? 
JV: Sure. So, I co-founded Linkurious with Sebastien Heymann. I'm going to talk a little bit about him and then I'll talk about myself. Sebastien has a long love story with graphs. I think he started a project called Gephi, about six or seven years ago. It's open source graph visualization program. 
RVB: That's very well-known and Gephi's, everyone uses Gephi. 
JV: Yeah, and I think he's been in love with graphs ever since. For me it has been more recent I'd say. During my studies I started using Gephi for competitive analysis reasons. I really loved it because I thought it was powerful, it was a completely new way for me to understand data, and at the same time it was very beautiful. It was very exciting to-- 
RVB: Beautiful is good … 
JV: Exactly, that's-- I'm not ashamed of that, it's one of the things that attracted me to graph, and graph visualization in the first days, and it's still something that I find exciting. I started diving into Gephi and graph visualization. I thought it was very interesting, and then I met Sebastien and had the opportunity to start Ever since, what had been very fascinating with the ongoing work at, is that we get to interact with people who are innovators working with data in new ways to solve various problems in the field of financial services. In the field of security in general, in the field of health, and we get to play a very modest part in that journey by helping them understand their data and-- 
RVB: What's the most exciting case that you've had in the past couple of years? Can you give us one example maybe? 
JV: Sure, something that was very interesting for us was working with the ICIJ. It's a conglomerate of data journalist and they used Neo4j and Linkurious to explore the data from HSBC and work on important very large scale tax fraud scheme or arranged tax fraud scheme. 
RVB: Is that the case that was in the news a couple of weeks ago? 
JV: Yeah exactly. 
RVB: Oh. Wow. 
JV: And that has been discovered by combination of Neo4j and Linkurious. 
RVB: Super. I was always thinking that I could use visualizations to find new beers but you can do more than that … 
RVB: We'll switch to the next and the last question. Where do you think this is going in the next couple of years? Where is the graph space, graph data space going but also where is going in the next couple of years, could you help us there a little bit? 
JV: Sure, I think graphs will still be a niche, compared to relational data basis in general, but it's a very quickly growing niche, and it's going to be very important for companies working with large volumes of data, within that more and more people are going to be interacting with graphs. It's going to be something very common in the business world and we're excited to see a new cases, new applications, almost on a daily basis. So there's bright future for graph technologies. And as a small company intends to play our part in democratizing graph technologies, by offering the solution that business people - everyday business people - will use to understand their graph data. We want to be the reference for that. 
RVB: That's super. Thank you so much. It was a great talk. We're going to wrap up now. We want to keep this podcast short, and sweet. Thank you-- thanks a lot. If people want to know more about either Neo4j or you can go to or Thank you again, Jean, and I look forward to speaking to you soon again. 
JV: Thank you very much, Rik. 
RVB: Bye. 
JV: Have a nice day.

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