Over the next 24 months, the marketing team at dbt Labs is going to triple. We expect to grow from about 10 marketers and support folks (front-end engineering, design, analytics, ops) to somewhere in the 30s. The marketing team is growing to support dbt Labs as we serve three customer segments (SMB, mid-market, enterprise) across four regions (US, ANZ, UKI, DACH).
With this post, my hope is that I can convince you (yes, you!) that you should seriously consider this company and this marketing team for the next stage of your career. My goal is to show as much as possible rather than tell. I hope at the end of this article, you have a sense for the size of the opportunity at this company and your interest is piqued enough to put in an application and start meeting the humans behind dbt.
Growth: 3x growth year-over-year for five years
The north star metric we use for dbt is Weekly Active Projects. This represents the total number of companies running dbt in production each week. We’ve been tracking this number since 2016 and dbt adoption has has been growing 3x year-over-year for the past five years.
dbt started as an open source only project. In July of 2018, we released our first commercial product — dbt Cloud (previously known as Sinter). Customers could use dbt Cloud on a free Developer seat, or a paid Team plan. We had no sales team.
In January of 2020, we release the IDE. This is when things started getting interesting from a revenue perspective. The IDE allows analysts to orchestrate the entire analytics engineering workflow from their browser. No need to run dbt on your local machine or learn the command line. With the release of the IDE, we started seeing meaningful traction in the enterprise. In January of 2020, we closed our first big enterprise account.
On year later, in the first quarter of 2021, we doubled the entire prior year of enterprise revenue. Our enterprise customers include JetBlue, Cisco, and HubSpot, to name just a few. Things are cranking.
But things start to get really interesting when we go a level deeper into where this growth is coming from. In any given month, we generate about 75% of our sales pipeline from what we elegantly call “inbound magic”. These are incredibly qualified companies who reach out to us through the Contact Us form on our website and say they would like to speak with someone on our sales team, please. Many of them are already running a proof of concept with dbt Core of have explored the free version of dbt Cloud. At the time of this writing, our marketing team has not run a single integrated campaign, or spent even a dollar on advertising (though we are starting this work soon!).
While we are developing a well-oiled go-to-market machine, and will need to it to reach $100m in ARR, it doesn’t exist today. So…what is driving this growth?
Market Size: Enterprise data management market growing from $77.9B in 2020 to $122.9B in 2025
To-date, dbt’s adoption has not been driven by a giant commercial team. Rather, dbt’s growth is being fueled by a massive shift in the data management market: The shift to cloud data platforms.
For folks new to the data management landscape, I recommend reading James Densmore’s article, he leads data infrastructure at HubSpot— Data Warehouses are the Past, Present, and Future — it effectively compresses 10+ years of data warehousing into a few hundred words. Here’s is the important summary:
“…this new breed of data warehouses made it possible (and economical) to store and query far higher volumes of data than ever before. From there, data engineers found they could focus their efforts on efficient ingestion (Extract-Load) of data into warehouses where data analysts could flex their SQL muscles to model the data (Transform) on their own. ELT not only saved the data warehouse, but it lead to the restructuring of data teams and the emergence of a new role, the analytics engineer.”
Jon “Natty” Natkins joined our sales team early in 2021. He shared his “career investment thesis” publicly. Here’s what he had to say about the market size for dbt:
A remaining question is: how big is the opportunity? Informatica went private several years ago at a $4B valuation, Talend more recently at a $2.5B valuation, and Alteryx sits at about a $6B valuation currently. While it’s possible that dbt will capture a portion of these markets, the reality seems to be that the CDW ecosystem is generating large, greenfield projects that legacy tooling is never even considered for. I believe that the correct way to estimate this is relative to market size of the underlying data management systems. It’s hard to know exactly what the CDW market size is, since Redshift and BigQuery roll into AWS and GCP overall P&Ls, but Snowflake currently holds a market cap of $70B, Databricks clocks in at $28B on the private markets (and it’s probably not insane to expect that they’d fetch a $40B cap on the public markets), and nichier up-and-comers like Starburst and Dremio also have billion-dollar valuations to add to that.
Data management is a huge space, with many peripheral markets building off of it, including the data integration market. Oftentimes, the way players in these markets price their products is as a percentage of customer spend for the primary market (for example, data integration tools aim to capture a fraction of the spend on data management infrastructure). In the case of data integration, that fraction is often around 25% (this is somewhat anecdotal based on my experience working for several data integration companies). If we extrapolate out the market size of data integration for the cloud data warehousing market, we’ll land at a number somewhere in the neighborhood of $25-$30B. It’s hard to imagine dbt capturing the entirety of the data integration market surrounding CDWs, but with a market of that scale that is continuing to grow rapidly, even at $1.5B in the latest funding round, dbt Labs stock still looks cheap.
The reason dbt adoption is growing so quickly is not because we are overextending ourselves with a commercial team wildly outbounding to every company with a data warehouse, it’s because the entire data landscape has upended, and is still being upended. This is exactly the kind of startup you want to join. The momentum in our business today is coming from truly tectonic shifts in how data is managed and used, and we are truly only at the beginning of what’s coming.
Customer Satisfaction: See for yourself in the 17k+ person dbt Community Slack
dbt is a fast-growing product in an exploding market. But…is the product any good? If you’re a marketer, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to just jump into the product and evaluate it yourself. But there is plenty of information out there to help you get a feel for just how much people love dbt.
- If you know any analysts or data people, ask them if they’ve heard of dbt and what they think. They probably have. And if they haven’t, show them them the website and see if dbt messaging resonates.
- Poke around in the dbt Community. It’s fairly common for open source products to have some type of developer community grow around them. What’s unique in the case of dbt is that dbt, and the analytics engineering workflow, are evolving in this new “cloud data platform” world. AND dbt introduces a whole new group of users (analysts) to what are established software engineering best practices like version control, testing, documentation, modularity, CI/CD. This makes the dbt Community uniquely valuable as a space for learning and building together. The best way to explore the dbt Community is to join the dbt Community Slack or attend a dbt Meetup.
- Search Twitter and see what our users are saying (pro tip: use “dbt+data” to filter out the Dialectical Behavior Therapy tweets)
- Search LinkedIn and see what our users are saying (again, use “dbt+data”)
- Search Medium and see what our users are saying (again, use “dbt+data”)
- Read our case studies, Jetblue and HubSpot are good starting points
We recently announced our Series C funding and this was the reaction in the dbt Community Slack:
It’s cool that we closed a $150m Series C that values dbt Labs at $1.5b, and I’m proud that we’re backed by some of the very best VC firms out there (a16z, Sequoia, Altimeter), but to me? This level of love and support is the real evidence of the value we’re creating. There are a lot of people rooting for us because they love the product and the community that has emerged around it. That’s what I’m truly proud of.
Founders: The best possible people to solve this problem
Products in the data space tend to be built for data engineers or business people. Tooling built for data engineers is robust and scalable but suffers from inaccessibility, which slows data teams down. And tooling built for business users has a low barrier to entry but suffers from good governance, which ultimately fails to scale and slows data teams down.
The fundamental innovation of dbt is not really what it does, data transformation isn’t a new thing, but who is able to do it. dbt is built on the viewpoint that analytics is collaborative and anyone who knows SQL should be able to participate in the data transformation process. Turns out, when you start from that perspective, you build tooling that brings the scale and quality of engineering tools to the accessibility of business tools and the result is dramatically faster data teams. This viewpoint stems directly from the 20+ years of experience our CEO, Tristan, has working as a data analyst. Tristan is a technical founder solving an old problem space for a new user.
This perspective inspired the development of an incredibly humble and powerful v1 of dbt and it is what gives me enormous confidence that this team is going to continue to make waves in the data management market.
📕 Read Tristan’s thinking on our blog.
💌 Read the newsletter he’s been writing about the data space for 5+ years.
🎧 Tune into the analytics engineering podcast.
📺 Catch a few of his talks on YouTube.
And you might start to feel convinced, as I have been convinced, that Tristan is one of the best possible people to solve this problem.
But Tristan has also surrounded himself with two co-founders, Drew and Connor, who also possess a depth of technical skill and emotional intelligence. The co-founders of dbt Labs have forged strong relationships built on time, trust, and mutual respect. I’ve seen enough dysfunctional startups to not take a dynamic like this for granted.
There is a lot of good stuff happening at this company. There is a lot of good stuff happening in this industry.
Finally! Open source developer tooling is a fantastic space to build a marketing career, there are not enough of us with experience in the space and the money that developers have to spend is only increasing 📈 If you want to build a differentiated career, this is a great space to be in.
I hope that you’ll consider joining us.
If you’d like to get to know the marketing team a little more, you can take a look at our org chart on theorg.com. Find us on LinkedIn and Twitter and see what we’re talking about. We’re a pretty good group of humans.
We currently have 4 roles open on the team:
- Director of Experiential Marketing
- Organic Acquisition Manager
- Senior Product Marketing Manager
- Global Campaign Manager
We’ll be opening field marketing roles, growth roles, and additional content related roles over the coming weeks. Stay tuned! Tell your friends.