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Investing in Sigma Computing

 I’m thrilled to announce that Avenir co-led Sigma Computing’s recently announced Series D along with Spark and with the participation of NewView, Snowflake and existing investors.


Since I first became a regular Tableau user almost a decade ago, I’ve been keenly aware of the challenges enterprises face getting their data organized and into the hands of the people for whom it matters most- business users and front-line decision-makers. Two core problem areas have driven this historically:


1. Data is scattered and chaotic- on-prem, in CSV files, in cloud applications, etc. For an individual user to get permission on and connect to the relevant datasets- much less transform them into useful outputs- would often take a business user weeks of back and forth, if it were possible at all, forcing them to submit tickets to an overworked central data team.

2. The tools business users could use to visualize and manipulate the data were designed and built around the computational bottlenecks of on-prem infrastructure. They struggled with large datasets and (too often) lived on a desktop, leading to queries measured in minutes rather than seconds and awkward user interfaces as workarounds.


With the rise of cloud computing, attempts have been made to solve each of these problems, but they’ve generally struggled. A wave of startups attempted to solve problem #2 but were forced into solving #1 as well in order to function effectively in a hybrid world- they often ended up building what effectively amounted to an entire data stack themselves out of necessity.


Happily (and finally), we’ve reached a tipping point in the last 3-4 years- enterprises are solving #1 at scale by deploying cloud data warehouses/lakehouses to centralize their critical datasets under one roof for the first time and pairing them with elastic computational power.

At Avenir, our survey work clearly showed that most companies have chosen a cloud data management strategy and are diligently executing on it- but their analytics toolset remains largely the same as it was ten years ago, with interfaces and paradigms built for the pre-cloud world. That is an unstable equilibrium waiting for disruption.


Enter Sigma. Since the beginning, Sigma was built with the understanding that the two core problems laid out above are best solved by separate products- a data center of gravity surrounded by tooling to ingest/transform/monitor data and a graphical user interface/semantic layer capable of meeting the needs of all users- from technical folks proficient in tools like Looker and Tableau to business users most comfortable in the world’s most popular BI tool, Excel. By focusing on the front-end visualization layer and nailing it, Sigma has broken the BI startup mold.


The result is a leap forward for analytics. A customer that has done the work to organize and centralize its data can now adopt Sigma and rapidly get that data into the hands of all its users in whichever interface feels the most familiar to them- a spreadsheet, a pivot table, a chart- virtually instantly. The power of the underlying data warehouses means calculations that would have been excruciatingly slow on a desktop can happen in seconds- whether a dataset has a million rows (Excel’s hard limit) or a billion, Sigma can handle it with ease and surface it to the folks who need it most. As part of our category work, we spoke with dozens of customers and partners of Sigma and the feedback was remarkably consistent: “non-technical people really love it,” the product “has this tendency of going viral,” and “anyone, even someone in an entry-level role, can use Sigma to make a successful visualization.” As regular users of the product ourselves at Avenir, we’ve experienced firsthand how impactful it can be.


Finally, the dream of data democratization can be realized- and with the ability to write data back to the warehouse (Input Tables) and enlist the help of generative AI to create new columns or build rough drafts of analyses (AI Copilot), Sigma is aggressively building to realize it further and creating an iconic company in the process.


It’s no secret that general-purpose analytics applications are ambitious projects- getting humans trained up on powerful, flexible UIs is not for the faint of heart or light of wallet. However, through natural alignment with warehouse vendors, best-in-class customer support, relentless product refinement, and sheer hustle, Sigma has built itself into, by far, the fastest-growing scaled cloud analytics company today while improving its efficiency over time. It is well on the way to being an iconic analytics platform. We at Avenir couldn’t be more excited to support its next leg of growth, and I am delighted to invest in a mission I’ve been passionate about since the early days of my career- making data available and useful to those who need it most.


P.S. If reading this has you remotely interested in seeing how Sigma can work for your organization, let me know- I’d be happy to find time to take you for a spin.

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