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April 29, 2022

Meet 2022 Datanami Person to Watch Tristan Handy

When it comes to data transformation in the modern data stack, few products have garnered as much interest as Data Building Tool (dbt), the open source, SQL-based command line tool enjoyed by millions of users. As the CEO and co-founder of dbt Labs, Tristan Handy enjoys an outsize influence on the future of dbt and the direction of data transformation in the modern data stack, which is why he is a Datanami Person to Watch for 2022.

Handy is a long-time data analyst who’s been working in the data warehouse trenches for more than two decades. His LinkedIn profile shows that after he graduated from the University of Maryland with a BS in finance and  information technology in 2003, he took a consulting job at Deloitte Consulting from 2003, which lasted until 2008.

Handy then went back to school to get his MBA in entrepreneurship from the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School in 2009. After an internship at GE Energy in 2009, Handy took a series of jobs with startups including Squarespace, Argyle Social, and RJ Metrics.

In June 2016, Handy co-founded Fishtown Analytics in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with Connor McArthur and Drew Banin. The company was originally designed to be a consulting firm, but after use of the dbt tool took off, Handy and company pivoted and devoted themselves to running a software startup.

In 2018, dbt Labs released a commercial product on top of dbt Core. Then in 2020, Andreessen Horowitz led a Series A round of financing worth $12.9 million. That was followed quickly by a Series B by Sequoia Capital worth $29.5 million later that year.

The money kept flowing in June 2021, when Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital teamed with Altimeter Capital to raise $150 million in a Series C round. The company also changed its name from Fishtown Analytics to dbt Labs. Then this February, the company completed a Series D round led by Altimeter worth $222 million.

It’s been quite a run to a $4.2 billion valuation for Handy and company–especially considering that the outfit was never intended to be a software company. But considering the upheaval occurring in the modern data stack and the importance of transformation in the data lake, it’s undoubtedly just the beginning.

You can read about the rest of the 2022 Datanami People to Watch winners here.