The future of product at dbt Labs
As of January 1, 2022 I officially stepped down from my role as Chief Product Officer at dbt Labs. We’ve brought on Margaret Francis as our new CPO. I’m incredibly excited to be transitioning into an individual contributor role sitting at the intersection of product, community, and engineering to help drive innovation at dbt Labs.
I co-founded dbt Labs with Tristan and Connor in the summer of 2016. As a co-founder, you have to do a little bit of everything. I spent a lot of time (like, a lot a lot) answering questions in the dbt Community Slack, writing code, designing the product, supporting customers, and spreading the good word about analytics engineering in every way that I could.
Somewhere around 2017 Tristan asked me if I knew what “Product Management” was. I did not. He thought I’d be good at it, and so I figured I’d give it a shot. There’s a magical thing that happens at the intersection of product, community, and engineering: it’s an opportunity to build elegant tools that really help people. I feel indebted to the amazing people in the dbt Community that have shared their perspectives and expertise with me along the way – we wouldn’t have made it this far without your trust, encouragement, and input. For me, that whole story and all that magic is captured in this graph:
In 2017, there were very few dbt users out there in the world. My job was to both build the thing and to preach the gospel.
In 2018, we released the first version of dbt Cloud (then called Sinter) while Connor was doing sales and I was doing customer support. We started seeing modest but exciting adoption of dbt Core.
In 2019, we brought on our first community manager (👋 Claire Carroll!). We hosted our first dbt Meetup (👋 thanks for having us, Casper Team!), and started to believe that this dbt thing was more than just a flash in the pan.
After that, you see the slope of the orange line start to change.
2020 was a hard year by any measure, but raising a Series A and B while growing the team from 15 to 60 people during a global pandemic was… not for the faint of heart. We scheduled (and then rescheduled) the first-ever dbt conference, Coalesce, and watched thousands of our closest friends create a little bit of value in a year full of nulls.
By 2021, we were getting the hang of our new scale and reorganizing ourselves internally to keep pace with exploding demand for dbt. There was a lot of hiring. So much hiring. We ended the year with about 200 people on the team, more than 60 of them in the engineering org. We had new initiatives around metadata, the metrics layer, DAG visualizations, language parsers, and so much more either in-flight or already shipped. And oh yeah - we made dbt Core 100x faster somewhere in there too.
That brings us to 2022…
… there are a cool 24,000 members in the dbt Community Slack
… 9,000 companies use dbt every week
… we host 12 dbt Meetups in 8 countries. Nearly 200 people attended the first dbt Meetup in Lagos, Nigeria (👋thanks for making it happen, Opeyemi!).
Throughout all of it, the thing that’s kept me going has been all of you! I’ve seen people learn new skills, contribute to an OSS project for the first time, get promoted, start new companies, and transform their organizations with dbt. You’re the reason we do it all, and it’s been the privilege of my career to see dbt grow alongside you.
dbt Labs, the business, is growing too. With that growth comes new opportunities, but also new challenges. We have a sophisticated product roadmap intended to address the next generation of challenges confronting analytics engineers whether they’re on data teams of one or 1,000. The pace is quicker, the stakes are higher, and we’re aiming at solving harder problems than we’ve ever tried to solve before. This is where Margaret comes in.
Margaret is a deeply experienced product leader with a proven track record of helping teams scale products. She’s already owning the 2022 product roadmap, aligning the org around our objectives, and growing the team. She has my unbridled support and confidence as our new CPO and it’s a privilege to get to watch her work. I know that I’m going to learn an incredible amount about scaling products through collaborating with her, and her leadership and depth of experience will shine through in the product we release to the world.
As for me, you’ll see me getting back to my roots at that magical intersection of product, community, and engineering. I’ve always thought of myself as T-shaped, and it feels reinvigorating to have the opportunity to go deep on hard technical challenges again. These days, I’m heading up our efforts around the metrics layer and the new dbt CLI, and we have a lot of exciting new product in store for you all. I’m thrilled to be a part of an organization and community where this kind of transition is celebrated and I just could not be more excited about the future for me, the product, and the community.
Margaret and I will be hosting a dbt Community AMA on March 4, 2022. Anna, our Director of Community will be moderating. Come hang out! Say “hi”👋🏻 to Margaret, talk about the metrics layer, share your ideas for the future.
Last modified on: Nov 29, 2023