The biggest tech companies have spent a lot of time and money building tools and platforms for their data science teams and those who work with them to glean information and metrics from the masses. data produced by their businesses: how a business operates, how a new feature works, when something is broken or when something might sell well (and why) are all things you can understand if you know how to read data .
Today, three alumni who have worked with data in the big tech world have founded a startup that aims to create a “metrics store” for the rest of the corporate world – much of which is under-resourced. to create tools like this from scratch – can easily use metrics to figure things out like this too.
Transform, as the startup is called, is coming out of stealth today, and it does so with an impressive amount of early support – a sign of not only investor confidence in these particular founders, but also the recognition that it There is a gap in the market for, as the company describes it, a “single source of truth for enterprise data” that could be usefully informed.
The company announces that it has stealthily closed a $ 20 million Series A and $ 4.5 million first round, both led by Index Ventures and Redpoint Ventures. The seed, the company said, also had dozens of angel investors, whose roster included Elad Gil of Color Genomics, Lenny Rachitsky of Airbnb and Cristina Cordova of Notion.
The big breakthrough that Transform has made is that it has built a metrics engine that a company can apply to its structured data – a tool similar to what big tech companies have built for their own use, but which hasn’t. not really created (at least so far) for others who aren’t those big tech companies to use as well.
Transform can work with vast treasures of warehouse data, or data that is tracked in real time, to generate insight and analysis on different actions around a company’s products. Transform can be used and queried by non-technical people who still have to manage data, Handel said.
The impetus to create the product came from Nick Handel, James Mayfield and Paul Yang – respectively CEO, COO and software engineer of Transform – when they all worked together at Airbnb (previously Mayfield and Yang were also on Facebook together) in a mix of roles that included product management and engineering.
There they could see firsthand the promise that the data held to help make decisions about a product, or to measure how something is used, or to plan for future functionality, but also the requirements to operate it. to make it work and to put everyone on the same footing. page to do so.
“There is a growing trend among technology companies to test every feature, every iteration of anything. And so as part of that we built this tool [at Airbnb] it basically allowed you to define the different metrics you wanted to track to understand your experience, ”Handel recalled in an interview. “But you also want to understand so many other things like, how many people are looking for ads in certain areas? How many people instantly book these ads? Are they contacting customer service, do they have trust and security issues? The Airbnb tool built was Minerva, optimized specifically for the types of questions Airbnb might typically have for its own data.
“By locking down all the metric definitions, you can basically have a data engineering team, a centralized data infrastructure team, do all the calculations for those metrics, and then serve them to the data scientists to enter. and sort of do a deeper and more interesting job, because they didn’t get bogged down in calculating those metrics over and over again, ”he continued. This platform has evolved within Airbnb. “We were really inspired by some of the early work that we saw happening on this tool. “
The problem is, not all companies are designed to, well, create tools like these to suit their own business interests.
“There are a handful of companies doing similar things in the metrics space,” said Mayfield, “really top flight companies like LinkedIn, Airbnb, and Uber. They’ve really started investing in them. metrics. But it’s only those companies that can dedicate teams of eight or ten, engineers, designers who can build these things in-house. And I think that was probably, you know, a lot of the impetus for it. wanting to start this business was to say that not all organizations will be able to devote eight or 10 engineers to creating this measurement tool.
And the other problem is that metrics have become an increasingly important – perhaps the most important – lever for decision making in the world of product design and a larger business strategy for a company. technological (and perhaps by default, any).
We have moved away from “go fast and break things”. Instead, we are now embracing – as Mayfield said – “If you can’t measure it, you can’t move it.”
Transform is built around three core priorities, Handel said.
The first of these concerns the collective ownership of metrics: by building a single framework to measure and identify them, their theory is that it is easier for a company to get on the same page using them. . The second is to use Transform to simply make the data team’s job more efficient and easier, by turning the more repetitive parts of information extraction into automated scripts that can be used and reused, giving the job data team the opportunity to spend more. time to analyze the data rather than just creating datasets. And third, provide customers with APIs that they can use to integrate metric extraction tools into other applications, whether in business intelligence or elsewhere.
The three products he is presenting today, called Metrics Framework, Metrics Catalog and Metrics API, derive from these principles.
Transform isn’t really launched publicly until today, but Handel said he’s already working with a small handful of (unnamed) customers in a small beta, enough to be sure what he’s built is working. as expected. The funding will be used to continue to develop the product as well as attract more talent and hopefully get more companies to use it.
Hopefully that’s a less subtle word than what its investors would use, convinced that it fills a strong market need.
“Transform fills a critical gap in the industry. Just as we invested in Looker early on for its innovative approach to business intelligence, Transform goes one step further by providing a unique, powerful but streamlined source of truth for metrics, ”said Tomasz Tunguz, Managing Director of Redpoint Ventures, in a press release.
“We’ve seen companies around the world struggle to make sense of endless data sources or turn them into reliable and actionable metrics. We invested in Transform because they have developed an elegant solution to this problem that will change the way companies view their data, ”added Shardul Shah, partner at Index Ventures.