Helping the Enterprise build reliable data products
Our investment in Soda
Today, our portfolio company Soda announced an 11.5M€ Series A led by our friends at Singular. We’re also disclosing that we led Soda’s seed round 9 months ago alongside Hummingbird and the Data Community Fund (see PR here). A good occasion to speak about monitoring software, show a few screenshots of the Soda product and explain why we backed the company.
A quick review of Monitoring and Observability software
When we look at the history of IT, one can observe that with each evolution of the IT stack comes a new great observability and/or monitoring platform/company. A good number of them went on to become category-defining ones. Just to name a few:
- Splunk (started in 2003, $27bn market cap),
- Dynatrace (started in 2005, IPO, $12bn market cap),
- AppDynamics (started in 2008, acq for $3.7b by Cisco),
- NewRelic (started in 2008, IPO, $5bn market cap),
- Datadog (started in 2010, $30bn market cap), or,
- More recently, Instana (started in 2015, raised $57M) that helps companies building with microservices.
As the stack matures and more and more companies start using the new technological capabilities offered by this new evolution, the monitoring part becomes a must-have for companies embracing this stack. From a VC point of view, if you’re a believer in the evolution of the stack, playing the monitoring part is often a “good” bet to take.
At Point Nine, we’ve been generally bullish about monitoring software in various industries (even beyond IT) backing and working with companies such as:
- AMMP: monitoring software for utility companies using solar energy,
- Bearer: monitoring software for companies using third-party APIs, or,
- Chainalysis: monitoring software for blockchain transactions.
You might have noticed that it makes A. B. C. ;)
But we never invested in a monitoring platform focused on the data stack. Welcome S….
Soda is an Enterprise-grade monitoring platform that enables the Enterprise to monitor what can be called “data products”. A data product is a software product that uses data as an input and at its core to facilitate/make/automate decisions. As the Enterprise starts building more and more data products, it’s becoming increasingly critical to monitor the quality of the data that’s being fed into these products.
More concretely, let’s assume that a fictional car manufacturer starts relying on an algorithm leveraging various inputs (such as manufacturing data coming from SAP) to price the cars they sell on the secondary market. If the production data is totally off, there’s a chance that the car manufacturers’ salesforce starts offering completely wrong prices to their clients (and badly impact the car manufacturer’s P&L). This exact use case actually came up as we ran references before making our investment decision.
Soda connects to various types of data infrastructures and brings technical (eg. data engineers, data analysts) and non-technical people (eg. data stewards and data product managers) together in one platform that allows them to identify, easily monitor and solve issues that would come up with data products. You’ll find a few screenshots of their platform below.
Why is it exciting?
- More and more companies build “data products” and face data quality issues: almost every company (not only software companies) are now trying to automate processes and decisions using data. But having reliable data to make that happen has become one of the biggest challenges for the Head of Data & Analytics (as shown in the industry survey shown below). As much as CTOs need to monitor the various layers of the software stack, it has become as critical for Heads of Data and Analytics to monitor the quality of their data feeding their data product.
- A new persona in the Enterprise, “the Data steward”: this change and the challenge arising from managing data quality even led to the emergence of a new persona in the Enterprise. The data steward. Data stewards are data quality experts and perform data quality checks to ensure data products are running properly. Soda is their go-to platform.
- A company-wide collaboration platform: as much as software is now in each and every department of the company, one could imagine that soon, data products will be built and used in many different departments of the organisation. Soda could then become the collaboration platform enabling a company-wide collaboration to investigate and solve challenges arising with data products.
- The founders, Maarten and Tom have a rare (and killer) combination of skills to go after this opportunity. Maarten was the first business employee at Collibra (which is probably one of the most successful European Enterprise SaaS companies in the data space), Tom was a core contributor of many successful open source projects. They’re also avid Belgium beer fans…
Welcome to the P9Family, team!