Posted October 10, 2019

Data has become so meaningful to the enterprise, it’s become a cliche. Increasingly, the answers to improved performance, accuracy, security, and, of course. business metrics are hidden within massive streams of data. However, while the industry has been espousing this for years, it’s really only in the last few we’ve seen a dramatic shift in how data teams operate as a result. 

At a16z, we see thousands of companies every year, which has given us a great vantage point for tracking trends and new technology stacks as they emerge. Of particular interest to us is the particular shift on attitudes and usage of data tools. It’s clear, for example, that more workers in an organization need access to data at scale. It’s also clear that flexibility and openness are of increasing importance as the sophistication of requirements for analysis and visualization grows. 

These trends are a massive boon to the industry as companies can glean better information from more data more quickly than ever before. However, they also put a ton of pressure on the analytics and visualization layer that’s been held by traditional business intelligence tools. And so, we’re also seeing the emergence of new tools to process and visualize that data. 

Apache Superset is the most popular of these tools, and we believe the most suited for the emerging generation of data-oriented companies. Superset is an enterprise-ready analytics application for data exploration, data visualization, and dashboarding. What we find particularly compelling is that the core philosophy behind Superset is to democratize analytics. In order for a business to move quickly, the ability to view and analyze data should be pushed through the organization, rather than siloed in a single team. Superset is as much a platform as a product. While it’s immediately useful for crafting visualizations and dashboards, it also, it also exposes high-level building blocks that can be used by any company to build their own internal data products. And, of course, being open source, companies can join the largest and fastest growing community in this space that includes many of the top tech companies in the world. 

In my world of core enterprise infrastructure, I rarely have the opportunity to show screen shots, so I’m going to shamelessly do that here.Apache Superset is one of the most popular open source projects, which is an incredible feat for its primary author, Max. However, what’s even more remarkable is that Max is also the author of another highly popular open source project: Apache Airflow.  

When Max and I first met over a year ago at a low-key diner in Russian Hill, he mentioned that he wanted to start a company around Superset. Max has long been a thought leader in the data analytics space, so between that and him being the primary author of Superset, I couldn’t think of a better person to build the next generation BI platform. Not only was this space growing dramatically, which played out in the acquisitions of Tableau and Looker a few months after our dinner, but the broader shifts around how data teams functions was demanding a new tool.

We’re exceptionally excited to be partnering with Max and the Preset team to develop the leading next-generation BI platform. We’re also very happy to be supporting the open source Superset platform that underlies it. If you work with BI or data, and you haven’t yet played around with Superset, then I strongly recommend you do.