Today’s announcement is surreal.
At Atlan, we began as a data team ourselves and were frustrated by how difficult it was to manage our work. It felt like an uphill climb to share data, document knowledge, track changes, save work, and more. We were envious of our sales, marketing, and engineering teams, who worked in modern tools like Salesforce, Hubspot, and GitHub while we toggled between a dozen disconnected, siloed tools every day.
Back in 2017, we wrote an internal memo titled “Salesforce for Data Teams”. This memo is when the idea for Atlan started taking shape, and it’s what makes today’s fundraise announcement with the Salesforce Ventures team all the more special.
In our first pitch deck, we shared a bold vision. Salesforce is the home for sales teams, GitHub is the home for engineering teams, and Figma is the home for design teams. At Atlan, we wanted to be the Home for Data Teams.
In the past 18 months, we couldn’t be more grateful to the amazing data teamswho’ve trusted us and given us the opportunity to become their home. My personal favorite moment of the year was in a check-in with Larisa Gorokhova, the Senior Director of BI at CSE Insurance, when she said to me, “Atlan is not just a data catalog. It is really a home for data people to collaborate, to discuss things, to join together. It’s a home for your data team.”
We’re thrilled that we’ve built a home where data teams love to live and work every day, but we know that’s just the first step.
Today we’re so excited to announce that we’ve closed our Series B, a $50 million round of funding led by Salesforce Ventures, Sequoia, and Insight. Several founders in the modern data stack also participated in the round, including Taylor Brown from Fivetran and Ajeet Singh from ThoughtSpot, as well as existing investors Waterbridge Ventures.
Fundraise announcements are often boring, so today we want to share what this fundraise really means to us and what’s next in our journey to move the needle for data teams around the world.
Supercharging every tool and experience in the modern data stack
While the data stack has solved some important problems, it’s become increasingly chaotic and siloed. The experience of working with these tools today is fundamentally broken. Benn Stancil wrote about this and made an open call for the “Modern Data Experience”.
While we don’t fully know what the future of the modern data stack holds, we know that metadata will be key to stitching together the ideal data experience.
Metadata was all the rage last year. Yet all the hype and debates focused on metadata architectures, push vs pull, data discovery vs data catalogs, etc. We believe these are the wrong problems to be focusing on.
We believe that the next leap forward in the metadata space will not come from perfecting the architecture. Instead, it will come from helping data teams get real value from the gold mine of metadata that’s generated today.
We have still barely scratched the surface of what metadata can do. Metadata holds the key to solving dozens of problems in our space — allocating compute resources dynamically based on usage metadata, scoring data health and insights, purging stale data assets, and even dynamic pipeline optimization.
For example, imagine a world where these situations are the norm:
- When a data quality issue is detected in a source table, the system automatically stops the downstream pipelines to ensure that incorrect data doesn’t make its way to the dashboard.
- The system leverages past usage logs to automatically tune data pipelinesand optimize compute performance by shifting loads towards frequently used data assets and optimizing the schedules of data pipeline runs.
We believe that the solution to this is moving from today’s passive, siloed systems to truly activating metadata. Think of a Segment or Zapier-like experience where metadata can create harmony across tools and power perfect experiences across the data stack.
To make this future happen, we need to open up metadata and move from augmented data catalogs to “metadata anywhere” orchestration systems. For the past year, we’ve been quietly working towards making this new world of active metadata a reality, and we can’t wait to show you our progress. Stay tuned for some exciting updates in the near future.
Building the kind of company that we wished we could have partnered with
In our early days at Atlan, we wrote an internal manifesto about what it would take to be the kind of company that we wished we could partner with when we were a data team ourselves. These principles have driven almost all our product and business decisions since Day Zero. One of these principles is, “Be a partner, not a vendor.”
In a chat with Venkat Gopalan, the Chief Data Officer at Belcorp, we asked, “What surprised you about Atlan?” He replied, “Beyond the product, it was the team commitment. I see this as a partner-partner relationship, not a client-vendor relationship. I think you are genuinely interested in investing in the success of an organization.”
In the same spirit, Larisa said, “I hope you won’t lose that spirit and dedication to your customers as you grow. I’ve seen that happen a lot… I hope you won’t lose that spark.”
We’ve recently heard this sentiment from many of our customers — they don’t just value our product, but also the people who come with it.
When data teams bring on Atlan, they’re often going through a critical transformation. Our champions face the challenge of helping their teams move from a reactive “data service” mindset to a proactive “data product” mindset. While technology is an important part of this transition, the way that a data team evolves its culture and rituals is just as important.
In our regular coffee chats with our customer champions, we realized that we often were going beyond talking about our product and feature requests (though that came up too! ). Instead, they started asking us about their internal challenges, cultural rituals, and best practices around setting the right processes. We realized that we were able to add a ton of value by just sharing experiments and learnings from other data teams that we work with.
We’ve consciously chosen to be more than just the provider of a product and invest heavily into helping our customers with culture enablement. For us, this means treating our customers’ goals as our own. It means going above and beyond, and doing whatever we can to help them succeed.
Last year, we started with a small community space for our customers to share frameworks and best practices. In the coming year, you will see us invest heavily in doing more to help drive the data culture stack forward — for our customers, but also for any data team looking to work together better.
Giving back to the data community
Our mission at Atlan is to help data teams do their lives’ best work, together. The first and most impactful way to achieve this was by building a great product. But the product was always just supposed to be one part of the mission.
All of us in the modern data stack have been working together to build something better and improve data teams’ daily work. In the early days, the best way for us to do this was to be transparent about sharing our own learnings as a data team. Since then, we’ve learned so much from our customers and friends in the data world as they take on this journey, and we’ve been working to make this knowledge openly accessible for teams everywhere, whether they use Atlan or not.
Today this funding allows us to expand our efforts to give back to the community that has been so supportive of our work.
In the coming year, we’ll work to share this information openly and transparently. We’ll continue to invest in educational content and resources, sponsor meetups and communities, and contribute back to the important open-source initiatives and projects that we’re passionate about.
Building an amazing team of Atlanians around the world
While the last year has been a whirlwind of numbers and wins, what we’re most proud of is the amazing team we’ve built.
We’re now a team of over 100 Atlanians spread across 12 countries and 40 cities. Our go-to-market team stretches across the globe, with homes in San Francisco, New York, Guadalajara, London, Manila, Istanbul and Chennai. Our finance and operations team is in New Delhi and Toronto, while our security team is in Singapore and Pune. Our product and engineering team is spread across Bangalore, Providence, Lagos, and beyond.
Our team starts off every meeting with “Good morning, afternoon, and evening!” and automatically knows what time it is in Los Angeles and New Delhi right now. It’s a bit odd, we admit, but we love it.
We did this because one of our core values is “One Team”. It doesn’t matter whether someone is from San Francisco or Sao Paulo, whether they went to Harvard or a college we’ve never heard of, whether they’re 18 or 81, whether their gender identity is male, female, or non-binary… We don’t care about any of this.
At Atlan, all we care about is someone’s work, because it speaks in a way that words never can. We love people who take pride in their work and do the right thing even when no one is watching. This focus on letting anyone, anywhere, join our mission means that we’ve been able to democratize opportunity and build a team of truly amazing Atlanians in every corner of the globe.
This team keeps us all going, even when our nights get longer and our challenges get tougher. That’s why we’ve chosen to announce our fundraise not with a video from our investors or customers, but with the honest reactions from our team when we announced it internally. It was one of our favorite moments so far, and we’re so excited to share a glimpse of what this announcement actually means to us all.
Dreaming with our eyes wide open
The next decade is the decade of data-driven teams and companies — ones that don’t just use data, but integrate it into every aspect of their daily work. However, these teams will only be successful if they find a way to collaborate effectively across today’s chaotic data silos and knowledge gaps. When the diverse “humans of data” finally become a real team.
At Atlan, our dream is to be the place where these amazing teams live and work together better — where their tech empowers them to do more than they ever imagined, rather than holding them back from their goals.
When a new Atlanian joins the team, they jot down their dreams for the future in a ritual that we call the “Dream Wall”. While some of our dreams are silly like our hope for a beach retreat, most of our dreams are about the amazing teams that we want to empower — the data teams that will be behind revolutionary human achievements in the next decade like self-driving cars, people on Mars, a cure for cancer, and much more.
While there’s a long way to go, we wake up every morning with the realization and excitement that we have a real shot. An honest, real shot at making these dreams a reality. And we’re giving it our all.
—Prukalpa & Varun