Three years in: things are heating up
After one year in business, I was excited that Fishtown Analytics was still alive and showing early signs of promise. After two years, I was excited that our way of thinking about analytics was starting to see some traction.
This week marks our third anniversary. And, wow…year three has really been something. Here’s a by-the-numbers:
- 680 companies use dbt every week (~3.5x YoY growth).
- There are 2,100 members of dbt Slack (~3.5x YoY growth).
- dbt Cloud processed 140,000 jobs from 200 accounts in June (~4x and 3x YoY growth, respectively).
- There are now 3 cities—New York, San Francisco, and London — that have regular dbt user group meetups, organized and sponsored by users in those cities (∞ growth from last year’s 0!).
I want to highlight the weekly active number, in particular, because that number summarizes so much about what’s going on in the dbt community and at Fishtown Analytics. Here’s that number, broken down by week, since we started tracking it:
If you were to take those points and fit a 10% month-over-month growth curve on top of them, you’d find an almost perfect overlap. As an analyst, this number captures what’s going on in the dbt ecosystem for me better than anything else.
Most B2B products scale growth by scaling sales and marketing spend. It’s hard to get new companies to adopt a product and typically requires expensive sales and marketing efforts to feed the funnel and get adopters over the hump. This typically requires a tremendous (and ever-increasing!) amount of VC investment, and this investment is often traded off against a lack of founder control over the product’s long-term vision.
That’s not how dbt has grown or is continuing to grow. dbt’s growth is happening with $0 invested in sales and marketing. dbt’s growth is from word-of-mouth, from people (like you!) saying to your peers “You should check out dbt — I’m using it at my company and I love it.” It’s meetups and conferences and blog posts and tweets and thousands of informal networks.
Users aren’t just saying that they love dbt as a product, they’re saying that they love dbt’s vision for analytics. dbt asks data analysts to work differently and to think of their role differently. Rather than thinking of the data analyst as an entry-level role responsible for pulling report after report, dbt envisions the analyst as the architect of a scalable, high-quality pipeline that produces knowledge for the entire business.
It turns out that a growing number of data analysts—and data leaders—are on board with this vision. I am on calls literally every day of the week with people who love that dbt lets them bring mature source control, CI/CD, environment management, and testing to their analytics process. I’m in touch with teams leading training efforts for hundreds of internal data analysts on git, the command line, and software design principles.
This is exciting. This is why we started Fishtown Analytics. We believe that data analysts are the most important professionals at modern, data-centric businesses, and that by empowering them to work more like software engineers we can unlock their latent potential. Seeing this growth and hearing this feedback tells us that we’re on the right track.
The Leash: Who’s Pulling Whom?
Back in the early days, progress was hard. We were trying to convince the entire analytics field that there was a better way to work and by and large, no one listened. We had no megaphone, no champions. It was just a few of us, a few clients, some text editors, and a Slack account.
We worked every day to convince more people of our vision, and slowly, slowly, we attracted a few early adopters: companies like Casper and Seatgeek who saw the vision and wanted to be a part of it. But we were very much “tugging on the leash”—investing our time, energy, and willpower, to pull things forwards.
Today, that relationship has inverted. Right now, every single week:
- ~60 new users show up in Slack looking for guidance and technical support.
- ~5 companies write to us, from startups to Fortune 100 enterprises, telling us about their internal dbt implementation projects and asking us for help.
- ~3 great PRs get submitted by contributors.
Today, the community is tugging on us, not the other way around. This is a major shift, and I believe it represents a turning point for both Fishtown Analytics and for the dbt ecosystem as a whole. The dbt community is increasingly self-determining about its own needs and our role is evolving into one of stewardship: supporting, nudging, curating the community in a positive direction.
Here’s how we anticipate contributing over the coming year:
- Continuing to maintain dbt Core, including both iteration on existing features as well as building net new functionality. This will involve ever-more collaboration with the community in incorporating your contributions and feedback.
- Continuing to build dbt Cloud for the large and growing group of customers using the product. Roughly 30% of all dbt users deploy their projects to production via dbt Cloud and we have ambitious goals for how we want to improve this experience.
- Continuing to consult with dbt users to implement dbt and to improve their internal dbt projects, while growing and nurturing an ecosystem of dbt-certified consulting partners that can scalably deliver this much-needed service.
- Continuing to support users in dbt Slack, but increasingly relying on the community to help us play this role. There’s no way for us to respond to everything today, and we stand even less of a chance in the future!
- Acting as moderators for the community across both Slack and Discourse: ensuring that members treat each other with respect. This is a role we’re very attuned to in the coming year as growth continues to accelerate.
- Scale our dbt user training program, dbt Learn, to reach many more users.
- Start offering enterprise support for dbt Core users who want a red telephone.
Community as a Platform
As the community grows, however, Fishtown Analytics will only be one of an increasingly large number of companies supporting the needs of the dbt user community.
Today, there are a growing number of service providers in the dbt community, many of whom are its longest-standing members and biggest contributors. Over time, we anticipate this group will grow, and it will be joined by software vendors building products on top of dbt and integrating their products with dbt.
We’re committed to acting as stewards of the dbt community in a manner that serves the needs of all dbt users, service providers, and software vendors. There’s a famous Bill Gates line that I really like about platforms:
A platform is when the economic value of everybody that uses it exceeds the value of the company that creates it. — Stratechery
That’s always been, and continues to be, our goal. In fact, this line has been a part of the Fishtown Analytics values document since before the company was officially founded:
We are more concerned with value creation than value capture.
We want to build a community that can support an entire ecosystem of like-minded data professionals, and we’re incredibly, incredibly grateful for your support in that process.
Thanks for a great year 3. I can’t wait to see what year 4 brings :)
See you in Slack!
Last modified on: Nov 23, 2023