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Hightouch, a platform designed to help enterprises synchronize their customer data from a data warehouse to their CRM, marketing, and dozens of other business tools, has raised $12.1 million in a round of funding led by Amplify Partners.
The modern enterprise data stack comprises various components, from data ingestion tools such as Fivetran through to cloud-based data warehouses such as Snowflake and Google’s BigQuery. By pooling data from multiple sources in this way, companies can run queries and generate insights that would not be possible from independent data silos. Hightouch enters the data engineering mix once the data is already in the warehouse and the user needs to get the data out and into an application such as Salesforce.
So while Fivetran is one of the most prominent platforms companies use to “extract, transform, and load” (ETL) data into their warehouse, Hightouch does the opposite of that — it is what has become known as “reverse ETL.”
At its most basic level, reverse ETL is all about copy-and-pasting data between tables. As an example, a company might want to get their data from helpdesk management platform Zendesk into Salesforce — to do so, they could use Fivetran to get the data into their warehouse and then use Hightouch to get the data from the warehouse and into Salesforce. Doing so can then help sales teams establish how much support one of their customers is requesting through Zendesk.
“By virtue of making data in the warehouse more useful, Hightouch makes Fivetran more powerful, and vice-versa — many workflows within Hightouch would not be possible without the data provided by Fivetran,” Hightouch cofounder Kashish Gupta told VentureBeat.
Founded out of San Francisco in 2018, Hightouch has amassed an impressive roster of customers in its three years so far, working with B2B companies such as Kong, Plaid, and Mattermost, in addition to B2C companies like Nando’s and Autotrader.
Hightouch supports around 60 “destination” integrations, from ActiveCampaign, Anaplan, Asana, and Amplitude through Facebook, Google Sheets, Marketo, and beyond. The company also offers a “custom destination” option that enables users to build their own Hightouch destinations. And in terms of sources, Hightouch can pipe data from Amazon’s Redshift, Databricks, Google’s BigQuery, Looker, Snowflake, Airtable, and several more.
Hightouch itself is a SaaS app that companies deploy on whatever their cloud of choice is, and allows non-data engineers to query data via SQL. Hightouch then maps the columns out in its UI to the columns of the corresponding destination SaaS tool. “Then Hightouch automatically creates a live sync of the data that works perpetually,” Gupta said.
Moreover, Hightouch also has an interface that enables businesses to “visually filter” market segments on top of models built by other more technical users, meaning that they don’t have to know any SQL themselves.
For example, marketing teams can combine data from multiple sources in the warehouse and run ad campaigns based on “all users who logged in within 30 days and viewed 2 products,” or “everyone who lives in New York City aged 50+ who added a TV to their shopping cart.”
According to Gupta, the main existing solution that companies use to achieve what Hightouch brings to the table is writing python scripts, and combining the scripts with something like Tray or Zapier. In truth, though, there are other similar players in the reverse ETL space — Census, another San Francisco company founded in 2018, raised $16 million just a few months back. And earlier-stage companies such as Grouparoo and Polytomic are also making a mark, both raising small seed rounds in the past nine months.
As you might expect, each product has it own differentiators — for example, Hightouch’s ability to allow nontechnical users to filter data on top of existing models. And Grouparoo, meanwhile, is building an open source data framework. However, that there are multiple products with a similar value proposition coming to market around the same time tells a story — it’s indicative of the enterprise need to synchronize internal customer data with their other myriad business systems.
More broadly, there has been a lot of activity across the data integration space of late, with GitLab spinning out a new open source platform called Meltano as an independent company, while Dbt Labs — formerly Fishtown Analytics — secured $150 million in funding (at a $1.5 billion valuation) to help analysts transform data in the warehouse. Elsewhere, Airbyte also secured venture backing this year before opening up its platform to support data lakes, starting with Amazon’s S3.
Hightouch, however, is a different proposition to these data integration platforms — in fact, its technology is complementary. Alongside its funding today, Hightouch announced deep partnership integrations with Dbt Labs and Fivetran, and both will be recommending Hightouch for their own users looking to make use of their collective data outside the warehouse.
“Open source” is a common thread that permeates many companies that operate in the broader data engineering space, with Grouparoo, Meltano, Dbt Labs, and Airbyte all building commercial products on such foundations. Hightouch hasn’t adopted an open source ethos yet, but this may be on its radar in the future. “We are thinking of a roadmap here,” Gupta explained. “Our customers haven’t demanded open source yet.”
Ultimately, Hightouch is a different kind of product than other tools in the data stack, and there is perhaps less urgency for companies to host Hightouch on their own infrastructure — it doesn’t store any customer data itself, for starters. “The application is hosted in our cloud, but the data 100% resides in the customers infrastructure,” Gupta said. “It goes directly from their data warehouse into their own cloud bucket and then into their SaaS tool. As a result, we’ve been able to work with sizeable fintech and health care customers who have been able to justify that Hightouch does not pose an additional risk to their data residency or security.”
Hightouch’s latest funding round follows seven months after its $2.1 million seed round, and alongside its lead investor Amplify Partners, its latest series A round included participation from Y Combinator, Bain Capital Ventures, and Afore Capital.
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