In a hypercompetitive web and mobile world, the best product teams rely on data to stay ahead. Data is the key ingredient to inform not just who your customer is, but where they’ve come from, what they’ve experienced and what they might do in the future. With it in hand, data-savvy marketers can drive targeted advertising and email campaigns, product leaders can plan re-engagement features, and developers can understand how users are interacting with their service. The companies implementing the right tools to make sense of this information are building a meaningful competitive advantage.
But while customer data is a rich asset, collecting and managing it is a major challenge -- even for web-scale companies. Building that “single-source-of-truth”-customer data warehouse requires significant time and investment in infrastructure, not to mention the unbounded developer time spent structuring and transforming the data. Add to this the challenge of then instrumenting that data across third-party applications -- A/B testing, CRMs, marketing automation, analytics, advertising platforms -- and you can see why so many teams begrudgingly embrace their data efforts. It’s hard work.
Today, we’re excited to announce our Series A investment in Segment, a fast-growing data platform for developers, marketers and product leaders. Segment is building the modern customer data hub, helping teams deal with the deluge of customer events that comes from operating at web and mobile scale. For developers, Segment instruments a service once for data collection, writing all customer data to a single API and saving real time and energy. Marketers, in step, are given a clean master copy of their customer data that’s pre-structured for any specific view they care for -- whether they’re pushing it to Mixpanel or KISSmetrics, or querying it on their own. For most of Segment’s customers, this is much more than simple “collection”: it’s about having the engine to finally break down data silos and seamlessly and scalably power all apps with the flip of a switch. In talking to developers (we talked to many!), plugging into Segment was one of the best decisions they made -- the sort of abstraction that gave them 10x leverage from a few lines of code.
At Accel, we try to invest behind great developer services platforms that abstract the hard work of everything from compute and storage, to payments, analytics, trust, authentication and more. It’s what we call the “APX Economy”, a world in which developers focus on their core strengths, blending their first-party application logic with best-of-breed, third party services. Braintree was a great example of this: payments infrastructure is hard, time consuming, and costly to maintain. Rather than fumbling with cumbersome legacy systems, apps could pass their payment data along through Braintree’s neatly packaged API, getting a quick confirmation in return. At Tune Analytics, we use a simple mobile SDK to collect and deliver real time attribution data to mobile marketers, helping to “close the loop” between the channel of spend and a new install. Great developer services are taking over more and more of these core competencies, and Segment is no different.
Segment’s founders -- Peter, Ian, Ilya and Calvin -- are classic Accel entrepreneurs: product-first “hackers” and tenacious learn-it-alls who were building a service to solve their own problems. Data and software integration challenges are some of the worst kind, but they believe in a world where data is free-flowing, unencumbered and simple to route. They’re doing the hard work of challenging data’s current "status quo" and succeeding handily; they’ve certainly made a believer out of me.
And Segment is growing fast. With this round, they’ll be hiring across the board to help support their thousands of customers, drive greater developer awareness and march down their ambitious product roadmap. We’re excited to be a small part of the story.