Bill Hankes was trying to find a way to sweep journalists’ inboxes of press release spam when he stumbled upon a bigger issue.
On a visit to a Seattle newsroom, he watched a reporter spend 45 minutes crawling through U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings, copying names and numbers into a notepad on his desktop and then checking them through a data retrieval system. Afterwards, the reporter left for the local patent office to pore over applications, hoping to stumble upon a nugget that could grow into a story.
Hankes estimated that the reporter sunk eight hours into searching through public records in this process over the course of a week.
“And then what happens if Microsoft makes a filing 10 minutes after he leaves the SEC or the court system?” Hankes asked. “He misses it.”
Hankes, who was previously a director at Microsoft’s Bing, perhaps unsurprisingly saw this as a problem that could be solved with better search tools. So he teamed up with David Kellum, another search veteran, and founded Sqoop.