The astronomer has come a long way since we last reviewed the firm in 2017. At the time, the scrappy data analytics firm had raised $3.5 million to build a solution for what occurs after you acquire a boatload of data, namely compiling and arranging it so it can be studied. In 2018, the firm began working on its contemporary data orchestration tools, which are driven by Apache Airflow, an open-source platform for data engineering pipelines that allows users to construct, execute, and observe pipelines-as-code.
For those unfamiliar with data orchestration, Astronomer CEO Joe Otto compared it to the connective tissue of a muscle: when additional data services are offered, something must link them together, and data orchestration serves as the control plane. Hundreds of thousands of data teams use Airflow now, with 8 million monthly downloads, up from 180,000 in 2018. Astronomer currently has 16 of the top 25 all-time Airflow contributors.
And the business isn’t as scrappy as it once was. Astronomer has increased its worldwide workforce by tenfold in the last two years, to more than 250 individuals, with offices in Cincinnati, New York, San Francisco, and San Jose. Otto didn’t go into detail about other growth indicators, but he did remark that the firm was only getting started and that he expected Astronomer’s base to increase significantly in 2022. “We concentrated on Airflow and worked with the individuals who invented it over a previous couple of years,” he continued.
“Right now, we’re collaborating with them on taking Airflow to the next level.” We’ve learnt how businesses are utilizing it, and we’re about to launch a product and begin increasing field teams, so there’s a lot of potentials.” Astronomer now has “enough of a liquidity buffer” to forward some of its strategic ambitions, thanks to the closure of $213 million in Series C investment, according to Otto. One of them was the purchase of Datakin, a data operations tool developed by the OpenLineage and Marquez open-source projects’ creators.
When asked about Datakin’s decision to join Astronomer, Otto noted Datakin was working on a data lineage product and was also active in the open-source community. In addition to having that in common, he pointed out that if you don’t have access to the data as an orchestrator developing and maintaining pipelines, the lineage won’t comprehend the data end-to-end. He went on to say, “The union of us two would be the next evolution for the current data platform.” “We reasoned, ‘Why not make the decision to be together as a couple?'”
Meritech Capital, Salesforce Ventures, J.P. Morgan, K5 Global, Sutter Hill Ventures, Venrock, and Sierra Ventures joined Insight Ventures in leading the current round of investment. It brings Astronomer’s total financing to almost $300 million. In addition to the purchase, the fresh funds will be used to expand the company’s engineering and customer success teams, as well as technology development and go-to-market operations.
“Now that the contemporary data stack has reached scale, we require orchestration expertise to manage today’s complex, high-speed data pipelines.” According to George Mathew, managing director of Insight Partners, “Apache Airflow, pushed by the Astronomer team, has become the generational platform for contemporary orchestration.”
Similarly to Mathew, Otto stated that Airflow’s huge and extensive reach allows Astronomer to focus on lifting it up and moving it to the next level, which is a logical extension of what the firm has already been doing. With Airflow as the “de facto tool for data engineers,” Otto thinks orchestration will be at the heart of all distributed data services. “You can judge us based on how we develop around Airflow and where we can offer more value, and we’re thrilled about what we’re anticipating,” he said.