Lightdash emerges to ‘fix’ the data analyst workflow


The company behind Lightdash, a new open-source data mining and analysis tool built around dbt and frequently compared to Looker, today announced $8.4 million in seed funding along with as the launch of a beta version of its new cloud offering.

Lightdash, which is the name of the company and the product, originated from the S20 bundle of Y Combinator as a tool named Hubble designed to test the quality of data in data warehouses, such as the freshness of timestamps and cardinality Chains.

Many data transformations today are written in an SQL dialect using dbt (formerly referred to as Data Built Tool), so it was only natural to target dbt’s growing user base with tools graphics designed to speed up and automate some of this work. As businesses rely more on data, they find that the costs of poor data quality rise, and developers wanted to target this segment of the data analysis workflow.

Over time, the London-based developers behind Hubble have expanded their scope to serve as the primary GUI front-end for dbt-driven data projects. Lightdash, as the product has been renamed, is “BI for the whole team,” as the company proclaims on its website. Advanced users can work with SQL to query data warehouses (it’s pre-wired to work with popular warehouses like Snowflake, BigQuery, and Redshift, among others), while less technical users can easily create graphs, dashboards and metrics in a graphical environment.

Lightdash is a new open source analysis tool designed around dbt

In addition to providing the front-end interface, Lightdash also provides governance capabilities and guardrails to help analyst teams keep their data in line. One of the problems with analytics in a team environment is that different members use different data sources and create different derived metrics, which often leads to the wrong numbers being used and, therefore, wrong decisions. Looker, with its LookML modeling language, has taken a big leap forward for teams to work from the same page and the same data, and that’s why Lightdash is often compared to Looker, which Google acquired in 2019. for $2.6 billion.

Solving this data dilemma has been Lightdash’s goal for a year and a half, says Hamzah Chaudhary, co-founder and CEO of Lightdash.

“In May 2021, we started working on Lightdash as an open source tool to visualize your dbt project and store all your business logic in dbt,” Chaudhary wrote in a blog post today. “We really liked the tools that were already available to us as data practitioners, but we felt disappointed at the BI level, which happens to be where the rubber hits the road for the rest as well. So we set out to create Lightdash, the best way for modern data teams to integrate BI.”

As an open source project, Lightdash has had some success. According to Chaudhary, the project has been embraced by companies like BeautyPie, Accenture and Warner Media. A query runs in Lightdash every 30 seconds, he says.

This success attracted additional venture capital funds. In addition to the previously unannounced $2.4 million seed round led by Moonfire Ventures, the company today announced $6 million led by Accel.

The company plans to make it easier to get Lightdash up and running with the launch of Lightdash Cloud, a fully managed version of Lightdash. The service, which is in beta, will give access to Lightdash Experts and certain uptime and response SLAs, and will be priced at $400 per month, but users can get started for free.

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Sean N. Ayres