Getting the Facts Straight - Data Week


By Jordan Reisman

Kris Sanchez, the 21-year-old founder and CEO of Uber Facts. Image courtesy of Kris Sanchez.

You are 13 percent more likely to die after getting a paycheck. Martha Stewart’s prison name was M. Diddy. Fifty percent of human DNA is the same as a banana’s. In all likelihood, you’ve never heard these facts before. Or if you have, then you’ve suddenly become a competitor for Kris Sanchez’s position as CEO of the wildly popular Uber Facts. Their tagline reads, “The most unimportant things you’ll never need to know.” If that’s the case, then why are we so addicted to reading these nuggets of information?

BTR had a chance to speak with Sanchez in his “between tweets” time. He assured me that he wouldn’t be tweeting during our talk. He says he schedules them in the morning, about two per hour (or for you right-brainers, 48 tweets per day). The handle was born of boredom whilst Sanchez spent his days scouring the internet for fun facts in 2009, occasionally putting them on his own Twitter because, “I was new to Twitter and I didn’t have anything interesting to write.” The site only became serious for him in 2011 when he realized that the account was getting more and more followers.

One question remains: Where do the facts come from? We were half-worried that we wouldn’t get an answer from him, as if being a professional tweeter was much like being a magician.

Sanchez told all, “It’s not a secret. I mean, I have a bunch of books, probably like 30-35 books at home. You just need to know the right places to look on the internet, a lot of science websites, interesting articles, the news. Anywhere I can find interesting information.”

This scavenging has really paid off. The day before Sanchez came into the BTR studio, the account hit 4 million followers. Even in such a social media savvy world, that is no easy feat. Some people might say that running a Twitter is easy and brainless, but Sanchez puts in the time and effort to ensure that people have a reason to keep checking in. He says it’s really the amount of times he tweets that accounts for the followers, and the fact that he’s developed what he calls a “spider sense” for finding interesting facts.

For all of its successes, Uber recently came under fire for tweeting some untrue “facts.” This came in the form of a particularly nasty article posted by a blogger hell-bent on debunking some of the ‘Uber’ facts. One tid bit Sanchez posted was that the average Facebook user had 160 friends, then the author of said article found that the average user had 234 friends. It happens. Sanchez took this snide criticism in stride though, saying, “At the end of the day, I think it’s just supposed to be a fun Twitter account and it should not be taken that seriously.”

One aspect of maintaining a Twitter account full-time is deciding how much to divulge of ones self. While the account really has nothing to say about Sanchez, he also runs a website for Uber. On that site, he has a few sections that contain a more personal touch, like “Picks by Kris” and the Uber Facts FAQ. Sanchez says about the fine line between personable and anonymous:

“I started off being anonymous then I thought it was a good idea, and I still think it’s a good idea to kind of become the person behind the page because the page doesn’t actually communicate with its followers. Uber Facts is just a brand. When people have questions, I can answer them as the person behind the page. I used to do that very often; people would have questions about the facts and I would reply to them through my personal account. It’s become a lot tougher because Uber Facts gets I think about 35-40,000 mentions a day so it’s hard to see what people are saying but I still play that role and engage with people.”

Uber Facts has impacted Sanchez’s social life too. His friends are often under the impression that he tweets when he’s out with them, not realizing that the tweets are in fact scheduled in the morning. He gets people all the time telling him to tweet some half-baked facts but those rarely make the cut. For a professional fact-finder though, Sanchez says he’d be really bad at bar trivia because his facts aren’t generally translated to question form.

Sanchez says on Uber Facts in the real world, “I’ve met people in the streets where, like, I’ll be wearing an Uber Facts shirt and they’re like, ‘Oh my god! I follow you!’”

Now with over 4 million people following Uber, Sanchez has been able to turn his means of wasting time into a full-time career. He submitted his two weeks to his day job this past September and is now a professional Tweeter. He says that advertising accounts for this mostly, as a separate company will give him content to post. Sanchez tweets about it, which in turn drives traffic to the company’s site. He says, “It works in both of our favors because they’re making interesting content for me and in exchange I’m getting them web traffic.”

In addition to advertising, Kris has plans to write an Uber Facts book. The content of the book remains a secret though, but it is confirmed that he has a publisher and a whole team out in LA working to make Uber Facts a more tangible publishing investment. If the book is as successful as the Twitter is, then millions of people will read along as they’re waiting in the doctor’s office.

That’s what Uber Facts really comes down to — killing some time on the internet. When asked what the account’s overall goal is for Twitter, Sanchez replied, “Entertainment is my goal and I’m glad that 4 million people find it entertaining.”