Learn More About Sinan Aral
In order to successfully compete in today’s rapidly changing digital marketplace, organizations must have a deep understanding of business analytics – which is why companies like Microsoft, Facebook and WeChat tap the expertise of award-winning researcher, data scientist and MIT professor Sinan Aral (seh-NAHN ah-RAHL). Since he is also a successful entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Aral offers organizations both a scientific and real-world perspective on how to gain a competitive edge using information acquired through digital networks.
Aral is the David Austin Professor of Management, IT, Marketing and Data Science at MIT. As an advisor and speaker, he teaches organizations how to read and leverage analytics to build business, make better decisions and plan forward – whether they are selling products or services, promoting causes or trying to prevent hacking, disinformation, fraud or election interference.
“The key to effectively interpreting and acting on the data is rigor,” says Aral. “I focus on the rigorous scientific work which is really the engine of everything else.”
In his role as Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) and its Social Analytics Lab, Aral is immersed in analyzing patterns of online behavior, from social media platforms to online retail sites. He has helped leading Fortune 500 firms, including Twitter, Yahoo, AirBnB, Jet.com, IBM, Intel, Cisco, Oracle and SAP realize business value from big data analytics, social media and IT investments. He also helps leaders understand the relationship between humans and machines and how artificial intelligence can play a role in advancing innovation.
Much of Aral’s shapeshifting work and insights are shared in his bestselling book, “The Hype Machine: How Social Media Disrupts Our Elections, Our Economy, and Our Health–and How We Must Adapt” (Penguin Random House, September 2020). Named one of 2020’s 8 Best Books About Artificial Intelligence by WIRED, a 2020 Porchlight “Best Big Ideas and New Perspectives” book award winner, and among the Best New Technology Books and Best New Economy Books to Read in 2021 by BookAuthority, “The Hype Machine” became an instant classic. Twenty years in the making, the book discusses – among other timely topics – the insidious ways social media is disrupting our lives and what we can do about it. In this 2018 TED Talk, which has over 2 million views, Aral gave audiences a preview of the research he would later share in “The Hype Machine.” Before and after the book’s release, he was interviewed by hundreds of media outlets around the world who were eager to hear him discuss solutions to the growing problems surrounding social media. In 2021, Aral’s important work was futher recognized by Thinkers50 when he won the Digital Thinking Award and was named among the top 50 management thinkers in the world. He was recognized again in 2023 as a top thinker.
Aral’s work reaches far beyond business applications to societal issues, like the effects of social media on a child’s brain, how social media is disrupting society and ways to combat fake news. The common thread weaving through all of Sinan Aral’s work is problem-solving – and his belief in the power of analytics to reveal the answers is unwavering.
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Sinan Aral is a scientist, entrepreneur, investor and founding partner at Manifest Capital. He was the Chief Scientist at SocialAmp, one of the first social commerce analytics companies (until its sale to Merkle in 2012) and at Humin, a social platform that the Wall Street Journal called the first “Social Operating System” (until its sale to Tinder in 2016). He is currently on the Advisory Boards of the Alan Turing Institute, the British National Institute for Data Science in London, the Centre for Responsible Media Technology and Innovation in Bergen, Norway and C6 Bank, one of the first all-digital banks of Brazil.
Aral’s research and teaching have won numerous awards including the Microsoft Faculty Fellowship, the PopTech Science Fellowship, an NSF CAREER Award, a Fulbright Scholarship, the Jamieson Award for Teaching Excellence (MIT Sloan’s highest teaching honor) and more than ten best paper awards conferred by his colleagues in research. In 2014, he was named one of the “World’s Top 40 Business School Professors Under 40” and the year before he was the Scholar-in-Residence at the New York Times.
In 2018, Aral became the youngest ever recipient of the Herbert Simon Award of Rajk László College in Budapest, Hungary. In that same year his article on the spread of false news online ended up on the cover of Science magazine, a piece Altmetrics called the second most influential publication of the year.
Aral is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Northwestern University, holds Master’s degrees from the London School of Economics and Harvard University and received his PhD from MIT.
Sinan Aral is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.