Escape Velocity: Prefect's Series B
Jun. 10, 2021

Following our $32M Series B, we're scaling our team, building new products, and forming A More Prefect Union.

Jeremiah Lowin
Jeremiah LowinCEO

A few months ago, we announced our Liftoff Initiative, designed to drive growth across four key strategic pillars: expansion, product, partnerships, and community. Thanks to the rapid success of that endeavor, we’re excited to share that Prefect has achieved escape velocity: we’ve raised $32 million in Series B funding to solidify our position as the new standard in dataflow automation.

The short duration between our Series A and B raises reflects the incredible enthusiasm around our product. Our highly-active community is growing by nearly 1,000 people every month, our open-source engine has been embraced by thousands of companies, usage of our commercial platform grows 130% every quarter, and we remain as committed as ever to ensuring a high-quality and positive experience for every one of our users, from open-source to enterprise. The new funding, led by Tiger Global with participation from Bessemer Venture Partners, allows us to scale our company as fast as our product while continuing our mission to eliminate negative engineering.

Historically, we’ve operated as a very lean company. We’ve hardly touched our Series A capital and our small team often scrambles to keep up with our community. We promised our first 20 community members that we’d answer any question in 30 minutes, and thousands of users later, we’re still doing our best to maintain that standard! But by being patient, and following a product-led strategy, we’ve gained extensive product knowledge and know where we can efficiently deploy capital with maximum leverage. We have learned how to reconstruct our product into something that’s more powerful, easier to deploy, and can deliver more value to our community through a new set of game-changing features. Best of all, we already have a template for this growth from the Liftoff Initiative. Now, along with our new capital partners, we’re turning it up to 11.

In order to achieve our ambitions, we are immediately hiring 50 new team members. We often say that building the startup is as important as building the product. Therefore, we’re delighted to have the opportunity to welcome so many new people to our team, especially after getting such a positive response to our unique approach to building a high-performance culture. We've already hired a Director of People and also a Senior Recruiter to make sure that we scale in a healthy and positive way while maintaining Prefect’s reputation as the best possible place for our team to work. In addition, our advisory board has grown to more than 50 exceptional people from every industry, and we are eager to resume our strategy sessions in person!

If you’re the exceptional person our team is missing, please apply for one of our open positions. We look forward to hearing from you!

Prefect is often used as an example of successful product-led growth. Our approach to combining traditional data engineering semantics with modern data science tooling resonates extremely well with the data community. In fact, our product so viscerally solves the negative engineering problem that in the summer of 2019, one of the largest technology companies in the world insisted on becoming our first customer and purchased a (very) pre-release version of Prefect Cloud, kicking off one what has become one of our best enterprise partnerships. That showed us the art of the possible, and ever since then we’ve raced to build the product faster than our users could demand it.

Today, Prefect represents the best implementation of the legacy, DAG-based workflow approach made popular by Apache Airflow. Prefect innovations like functional dataflow, parameterized workflows, custom schedules, distributed retries, and dynamic mapping have established our product as the clear category leader. But that isn’t good enough, because the modern data stack requires modern data workflows. Over the last year, we’ve catalogued many common use cases that can’t be captured by DAG-based frameworks. At first we were surprised, but after investigating we discovered that these are widespread among companies adopting the new wave of modern data tools. Therefore, we’ve been revisiting all of our assumptions, leveraging the immense experience we’ve gained with user expectations about orchestration. The tangible result of this exploration is already taking shape and will push all of Prefect’s most popular features to their limits while actually improving on the simple user experience we are known for today. We’re excited to be building the next-generation product that our users deserve.

We recently announced the first steps in our partnership with Microsoft, and we’re excited to continue our co-development and co-marketing efforts in 2021. In addition, we recently formalized relationships with premiere partners like Slate, Quansight, and Coiled - all of whom directly and positively impact the Prefect ecosystem.

Prefect is popping up all over the place. It’s being taught in data science classrooms, it’s being built into data platforms, and it’s increasingly listed as a prerequisite for data engineering jobs. To ensure a high level of quality, we’re creating the Prefect Partner Program to help organizations build, deploy, and monitor Prefect workflows by leveraging the strength of our team and network. We'll have many more details to share soon.

At the center of the Prefect story is the community: a vibrant and engaged group of experts, amateurs, practitioners, and enthusiasts. We believe that companies are obligated to create opportunity wherever they can, and we work to do so both inside our organization and out. Last quarter, we launched Prefect for Startups, Prefect for Academia, and Prefect for Nonprofits, all of which now represent organizations you certainly know - or will know soon! As pandemic restrictions lift, we will host user and ecosystem events to further collaboration and discovery, as well as sponsoring Prefect meet-ups around the world. 

Lastly, we have formed a new initiative called A More Prefect Union, under which we will consolidate our philanthropic and service efforts. Though we are now a globally-remote team, we are focused on our hometown community of Washington, D.C., where we have begun to work with the city government to explore how we can have a direct impact on educational and vocational outcomes in underserved communities. We are excited that many of our business partners will be joining us in this effort and hope to announce more ways to get involved soon.

Happy engineering!

Posted on Jun 10, 2021
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