tl;dr: A lot has changed in our data stacks, but it's not clear they're having more impact. At Hex we're working on this, by helping teams explore, collaborate, and share – creating knowledge that informs better decisions.
Our Series B – led by a16z, along with Databricks, Snowflake, and existing investors – is about bringing that impact to more people, and empowering everyone to do more with data, together.
Ok, this is a fundraising blog post, so you all know the drill. There are numbers of dollars. There are names of investors. There is talk of big ideas, and exciting plans.
It’s all great stuff, and I promise we will get back to it later. But I want to start with why, 10 years into the “data era”, data teams aren’t as impactful as we hoped they'd be.
In 2012, HBR called Data Science “the sexiest job of the 21st century.” But to anyone in the industry today, working with data can be disappointing and sad. Things have progressed a lot – we have more organizational respect, modern ELT, and a decade of compounding education. But if you were to ask data teams if they’re having a significantly higher impact than when we started this whole thing, your answers would be ambivalent at best.
For a long time the story was that we couldn't do “real” analysis work because we spend all of our time plumbing and cleaning. That was true for a while! But now we have a modern data stack™ with pipelines and warehouses and observability, generating refined data at our fingertips.
And yet, it still seems like data isn’t doing what we had hoped for. If you’re an analyst or data scientist, you spend your day digging through data trying to find insights. When you do, however, the most you can hope for is that someone can find the screenshot of a chart inside of a slide deck you sent in an email when they want to make a decision. For every “data team is a trusted partner” story, there are one hundred ignored recommendations, forgotten discoveries, and misinterpreted dashboards.
This is not the data-driven future we were promised.
At Hex, we believe the disconnect is because we have been looking at the role of analysts and data scientists all wrong. The job of the data team isn’t just churning out analysis – it’s about creating knowledge.
Knowledge is the sum of facts – everything that we learn from data, day in and day out. Every query, notebook, presentation, and "quick Slack with some numbers" generates facts, but the open secret is that organizations know a lot less about their world (customers, business, etc.) than they realize; there's a serious shortage of knowledge accumulating from these facts.
Knowledge needs to be shared, discovered, and referenced. It should build on itself; every analysis or insight should just be one page in a bigger book. This is ostensibly why we have all of this [** waves arm toward a data stack ** ]. We want to turn a mass of data into a base of knowledge, so we can make better decisions.
But our current tools aren't built for this. Our work doesn't compound – we're learning things and immediately forgetting them. 10 years into this modern data thing, we're looking at
results_notebook_v3_final.pdf and wondering where the hell did this come from?
We toil away in siloes, our workflows divvied up between tools based on how "technical" we are. If I'm writing in Python, I'm using completely different tools than an analyst in SQL, or a business user pointing-and-clicking, and our insights wind up living separately.
This lack of knowledge-building is especially painful as organizations change. New people join. Others leave. As new questions arise, how do you know if they’re new at all? Wait... someone did an analysis about this once... do you have that PDF somewhere?
This crisis in knowledge is as much a culture problem as it is a software one. But our tools shape the way we work, and we're in need of better ones. A solution focused on this would empower users to do a few things:
This is what we're building at Hex.
Hex is a workspace for collaborative analytics and data science. It's all about empowering individuals to learn things, and organizations to know things, so they can make better decisions.
As I write this, there are thousands of data scientists, analysts, analytics engineers, and data-curious people of all backgrounds using Hex at places like Notion, Fivetran, Mentimeter, Workrise, and Loom to analyze data, and create knowledge.
We built Hex to be both more powerful and more accessible than legacy tools: it’s a "low-floor, high-ceiling" platform that opens the door to novices while not constraining experts. Hex lets everyone ask and answer questions, whether they're using no-code, SQL, Python, or R.
Great analysis (and knowledge) is a collaborative endeavor, so Hex also makes it easy for teams to work together, including real-time multiplayer, comments, and a sane versioning model.
Finally, projects in Hex are incredibly easy to share as interactive data apps that anyone can use. You can drag and drop to create a UI, and publish with 1 click. Apps are organized in the Knowledge Library, which makes it easy to discover and manage outputs.
Combined, all of this means that more people can contribute and work together on turning data into knowledge, and that the end results are sharable, discoverable, and useful to the whole organization.
But (you guessed it!) we're just getting started.
Ok, ok, I know why you’re all here – this is a fundraising blog post, so let’s get into it.
We were excited to discover that the folks at Andreessen Horowitz believe in this whole data and knowledge thing as much as we do, and we’re proud to have them leading our $52m Series B, alongside our existing investors at Amplify Partners and Redpoint.
We’re also welcoming two of our partners – Databricks and Snowflake – to this round as investors. By working closely together with the leaders in infrastructure for data storage and compute, we will be able to unlock new capabilities and superpowers for our fast-growing base of shared customers. We couldn’t be more excited to be partnering with them.
This new round of funding gives us the room to move even faster on building the thing we have always wanted, and know needs to exist.
This whole knowledge thing isn’t just a marketing thing; it’s actually how we (a bunch of data nerds) think we can break through what has felt like a long slog. We’ve assembled a team that we’re really proud of, but we need your help.
If you love data and knowledge as much as we do, check out our open roles and get in touch. We have a roadmap full of big ideas and little details, and we’d love your help bringing them to life.