Blog dbt Labs Update: a Message from CEO Tristan Handy

dbt Labs Update: a Message from CEO Tristan Handy

This is a public version of an internal message sent to the team earlier today.

2023 has been a challenging year for many within the software space, dbt Labs included.

After closing out Q1, we’ve been taking a hard look at our financial plan. While we’ve seen continued growth, it hasn’t been at the pace we planned. This brings us to a moment that calls for hard decisions. The right call is to reset our expectations for this year. As CEO, I take full responsibility for this decision and the path that led us here.

As part of this reset, we will be reducing our headcount by 15% of our global team. This reduction will impact every function of the business. For those who are impacted, you will receive an email within the next few minutes with details of your individual status.

In the meantime, I wanted to share more detail on what’s happening and why.

Adapting to a changing environment

In 2020 we released dbt Cloud, our commercial offering of dbt. We were a 20-person company that had somehow closed multiple Fortune 500 customers and had over 1,000 companies using our open source product. By the start of 2021, we had grown to roughly 50 team members and were supporting more than 600 customers. Over the following years, we hired another 390 team members as we struggled to keep up with the demand for dbt.

By Q4 2021 the entire software sector was starting to see the economic environment change and we began to adjust our plans. Throughout 2022, we continued to adjust hiring plans as we got new information about the economy. We moderated our hiring pace, but still grew the team quickly as the market continued to pull product out of us at an aggressive rate. Coming out of Q1 2023, the software market is looking at a longer recovery and we need to continue to adapt.

I am confident these changes set us up well for the future. dbt continues to be a cornerstone of the modern data stack. Today, more than 20,000 companies use dbt in production. Our business is growing quickly, and acts as a steward to both dbt and the dbt Community. In this time of economic uncertainty, my priority is to ensure that we are able to continue to pursue our mission regardless of the external environment.

Recognizing our team members

None of this makes up for the fact that layoffs are an incredibly painful experience for those who are impacted. I want everyone who is leaving to know that I am—we are—grateful for everything you’ve done to build the community, product, and company that each one of us cares so deeply about.

As a company, we will support your transition in every way we are able. To that end, everyone affected is eligible for a comprehensive separation package, including:

  • We are offering our 12-week severance package to everyone affected.
  • We’re covering COBRA payments for 3 months.
  • We removed any equity vesting cliffs.
  • We extended the exercise periods of everyone affected to 1 year.
  • In order to support everyone affected with job searches, they will be eligible to keep their laptops to keep and will be supporting them through introductions and referrals.

You will receive additional information via email, along with an invitation to meet your leader and have any questions answered.

Moving forwards

To those who are staying, my ask is that you focus on our humanity value in this moment. Saying such an abrupt goodbye to teammates we’ve built real and lasting relationships with feels deeply inhuman. As peers, and in many cases as friends, my hope is that each one of us will reach out and express your gratitude and offer our support to those who are impacted. It is through these individual acts of humanity that we can continue to live our values in this difficult moment.

Additionally, I will be holding two office hours sessions over the next day:

  • today at 3pm PT
  • tomorrow at 9am ET

Please join the session that best aligns with your working hours. In the meantime, please take care of yourself, support your colleagues, and continue showing up for the hundreds of thousands of dbt users who rely on us every day.

– Tristan

Last modified on: May 18, 2023