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March 1, 2022

dbt Seeks to Modernize the Data Experience with Series D

Last week, dbt Labs announced a $222 million Series D round at a $4.2 billion valuation. The analytics engineering company (formerly called Fishtown Analytics) is known for its open source data build tool, or dbt.

The company is seeing rising demand for its dbt product due to the major increase in adoption of cloud-based data platforms like Snowflake and Databricks. According to the press release, dbt “enables data teams to transform data in-warehouse and deploy analytics code following software engineering best practices. This new way of working, known as analytics engineering, has been pioneered by dbt Labs alongside the global dbt Community of more than 25,000 data professionals.”

The new funding will allow dbt Labs to continue to scale its rapid growth. In 2021, the company tripled its customer count (customers include JetBlue, Nasdaq, Lendlease, Dunelm, and Canva) and earned six times its previous revenue while growing its team from 50 to 200 employees. Additionally, dbt Labs added integrations with partners including Firebolt, Materialize, Microsoft, Rockset, Starburst, and Teradata, in addition to existing integrations with AWS, Databricks, Google Cloud, and Snowflake products.

Interface of dbt. Source: dbt Labs

Founder and CEO Tristan Handy has an ambitious vision for the future of dbt. In a blog post accompanying the Series D announcement, he mentions feeling a “visceral pull towards a new set of problems” and that “the modern data experience is still broken in so many ways.” He wants to set dbt apart as a programming framework meant to help data practitioners harness the newest capabilities of cloud-based data platforms to extend and enhance modern SQL.

“As dbt has become accepted as the industry standard for data transformation, our most forward-thinking community members have begun musing publicly about the future of the modern data stack and about dbt’s role in it,” said Handy in the post. “As a data practitioner, I could not be more excited about our product roadmap: an open layer to define an organization’s single source of truth, accessible via every BI and analytics tool.”

Further in his blog post, Handy mentions a few new products coming down the pipeline, including an abstraction layer to allow analysts to save time and to work with less complexity. “When you bring this previously batch-based programming environment into an interactive context, you can all of the sudden access it from every single place you analyze data,” he says. Instead of having to know the exact name of a database table and having to precisely type it in each time, analysts can simply call the metrics they have already defined in dbt, resulting in more accuracy and consistency: “…[U]sed in an interactive environment, it will help you define your business metrics in a way that can be consistently applied to every analytical experience at your company.”

Tristan Handy, dbt Labs founder and CEO (Photo by MHamiltonVisuals)

Another new product to come is the dbt Server, of which Handy says there is now a live proof of concept. He describes it in a previous post: “dbt Server wraps dbt Core in a persistent server that is responsible for handling RESTful API requests for dbt operations. It’s a thin interface that is primarily responsible for performance and reliability in production environments. This is a new codebase and will be licensed under a new license for us—the Business Source License (BSL). This license will enable all users to run the server on their own behalf without limitation but will prevent it from being sold as a cloud service.”

It seems the dbt community of 25,000 data professionals has much to look forward to, thanks to this new investment round. Handy, who was recently named to Datanami’s list of People to Watch 2022, said, “This fundraise—and the $4.2b valuation—are simply a recognition of how big this opportunity truly is, an acknowledgment of how much work is left to do, and a vote of confidence that we can collectively get there.”


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