Mode, a five-year-old collaborative analytics platform based in San Francisco, has raised $23 million in Series C funding led by Valor Equity Partners.
Foundation Capital and REV Venture Partners, who led Mode’s Series A and B financing rounds, respectively, also joined the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $50 million altogether.
In some ways, the investment is a bet on the continuing need for data scientists, despite the many companies that are focused on making data analysis available and understandable to a broader swath of employees, like Snowflake and BigQuery.
The way Mode cofounder and CEO Derek Steer sees it, owing to today’s tools, organizations may need fewer data scientists. But they need also to better empower those individuals to quickly and effective answer key questions, like how clients are using their product in unexpected ways, and how companies can take advantage of trends they are seeing in the data, and other business intelligence questions. Mode does this through an integrated SQL editor, Python, R notebooks, and visualization builder that it says give users the flexibility to choose the level of abstraction they want for a given dataset.
The investment is also a bet on Steer, says David Obrand, a partner at Valor who is joining the board, and who worked previously with Steer at Yammer, the enterprise-level social networking site that was acquired by Microsoft in 2012. Obrand, who’d been Yammer’s chief customer officer, credits Steer as “key in accelerating [Yammer’s] path as a data driven business.” He says further that Steer “embodies the persona of the customer he’s serving.”
As importantly, at Yammer, Steer learned how to build a “freemium” software business that’s adopted by an organization after a small set of employees begins actively using its free version. Indeed, Mode’s playbook is much the same, giving data scientists access to a free product called Mode Studio with the hope and expectation that it will become core to their workflow, and they’ll then ask a broader team of decision-makers across the organization to use it, too.
That playbook appears to be working, too. Steer tells us 600 organizations now use Mode, including Twitch, Lyft, Shopify, Meredith, and Conde Nast. And while he says he isn’t certain of the exact percentage of users that are paying the company for its tools, its newest round suggests the number is meaningful.
Right now, Mode targets companies with up to 5,000 seats. It also caters largely to a U.S. audience. With its new capital, the company plans to expand geographically, including hiring employees outside of San Francisco for the first time. Steer suggests to expect new features, as well. The company also plans to expand each of its departments, focusing on its community efforts in particular.