Data, magic, and some more money stuff

Announcing our partnership with Sequoia


Yes, this is a fundraising post! These are always a bit weird to write, to be honest. We want to focus on shipping great products and delighting users, and celebrate success in that – not selling more of the company, especially when we didn't really need to. This is doubly the case in a time of so much uncertainty (bank failures, land wars, etc.)

But there's also some exciting things happening. Things that fill us with optimism. Things we want to invest deeply in. So I want to start by talking a bit about those, and where we're going next.

Three eras of computing

The first 30 years of computing were all about, well, computation. We developed transistors to process vast amounts of data, beyond what we could accomplish on our own. From the 1960’s on, this has made it easy to do everything from personal accounting to physics simulation.

ENIAC, the first programmable, electronic, general-purpose computer.
ENIAC, the first programmable, electronic, general-purpose computer.

The next era was about collaboration. In the 1990’s, the Internet unlocked ubiquitous networking. Now our computers talk to each other, making it easy to communicate and connect in entirely new ways, unlocking everything from heartfelt texts to unhinged gifs.

A simpler age.
A simpler age.

For the last three years, our team at Hex has focused on building software for people to do amazing things with data. From beautiful polyglot notebooks, to real-time-collaboration, Hex has helped bring analytics workflows into the modern age. As I write this, there are thousands of people using Hex to ask and answer questions, work together, and build knowledge.

But now, we find ourselves at the dawn of a new era for computing: creation. Rapid advancements in AI models are bringing computers from being passive tools to… something else. These piles of sand can now generate content, and suddenly everyone from artists to writers to programmers have access to new, powerful abilities.

Augmenting - not replacing - human insight

As we enter this next, exciting, confusing chapter, there are real questions about the future of data work. Will data teams be replaced by black-box AI models? Will business users just submit questions to a chatbot and get insights back? Will the computers make data-driven decisions all by themselves???

Eh… not so fast. These AI capabilities are great, but they really can’t replace what humans do best. Data work is a fundamentally creative endeavor, and even the most cutting-edge models don't understand business context, or know the right questions to ask, or how to present the answers.

But they can be partners – taking care of the tedious stuff, so people can focus on what they do best. This is how our new [Magic AI assist features](/magic) work. They are fully-integrated into the existing Hex experience, augmenting and accelerating our users’ ability to work with data.

Hex Magic generating SQL from natural language prompts

We believe this is just the beginning of human-computer symbiosis for data, where people and machines can partner together to better understand our world.

We are excited to contribute to this – but there’s a lot left to build!

Money stuff: partnering with Sequoia

Ok, let's talk about the fundraising. This isn't about vanity metrics or money in the bank – it's about what we can do with it. We have an opportunity to invest with conviction in the future of data workflows, and we want to be sure we can do that through whatever ups and downs the next few years hold.

We were fortunate to enter 2023 in a good position. In the last 12 months, our user base 10x’d, and Hex is now powering hundreds of data teams globally, including Brex, Notion, Fivetran, and Loom (and many more that were tighter on logo rights). We still had our entire last round of funding in the bank, giving us many multiple years of runway.

So, we definitely weren’t looking for funding! But when the opportunity to partner with Sequoia arose, it was tough to turn down. Aside from being full of smart, decent people, Sequoia has uniquely had a critical role in each of the three eras of computing, as early backers of companies like Apple, Zoom, and Figma. They have also had a large hand in the modern data ecosystem, backing Snowflake, Confluent, dbt Labs, Census, and many others.

So, today, we’re proud to announce a new $28m round of funding, led by Sequoia, with participation from existing investors a16z, Amplify Partners, and Snowflake, who we have been working with closely to bring Hex to our shared customer base, and are excited to deepen our partnership in 2023.

More magic

It’s an exciting time. Two massive waves – the modern data stack and generative AI – are converging, and opening up all sorts of new opportunities.

At Hex, our mission remains the same. We’re here to accelerate human insight, and help people do great things with data together. Some of this will involve cutting-edge AI, some of it good-old product engineering — but we hope all of it feels truly magic for our users.

More to come.

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