Data watch startup Observe raises $70 million

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Software applications are increasingly hosted in the cloud, distributed and updated at breakneck speed. In other words, they are getting more and more complex, which is becoming a major problem for development teams. BUT poll from the Enterprise Strategy Group, commissioned by Yotascale, which is certainly not an unbiased vendor (if one exists), found that 84% of companies in 2022 found tracking cloud cost allocation alone cumbersome and time-consuming. 61% admitted they lacked “enough visibility” of which teams own cloud resources.

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If you ask Jeremy Burton, the solution lies in more observability, that is, tools to monitor all the components of an application, from the back-end systems to the front end. This is not particularly surprising of Burton, given that he is the founder Observe, developer of the surveillance platform he co-founded in 2017 with Jacob Leverich, Jonathan Trevor, John Watte and Philip Unterbrunner. But this is not an unfounded position. According to report of Techstrong Research and Testlio, 54% of developers cannot keep up with the demand for new and updated software, highlighting the challenges the industry faces in supporting and releasing applications.

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“Users experience issues in mobile or online apps every day: slow performance, bugs, and even crashes,” Burton told TechCrunch via email. “Engineering teams can spend up to half of their time on “unplanned work” investigating and fixing these issues. It takes so long because the telemetry data they use to analyze the problem is scattered and special tools are used to view each vault. Then a propellerhead who knows how everything is interconnected has to come in and put the big picture together.”

Burton and the rest of the Observable founding team aimed to solve the problem with a product that combines log analytics and monitoring with application performance management. Built on top of the Snowflake cloud data platform, Observe takes in machine-generated data—nearly 50 terabytes every day—and transforms it into “human-readable” datasets to form relationships between them. Relationships that range from things like customer accounts to e-commerce shopping carts can be used by developers to figure out why an app misbehaved or crashed, for example.


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Watch the data processing architecture.

The Observe preview launched in 2020, and in anticipation of an expansion later this year, the company today closed a $70 million debt round between Sutter Hill Ventures, Capital One Ventures and Madrona Ventures. To date, the total capital of the company is 114.5 million dollars.

Burton has had a distinguished career, and it’s no surprise that it’s linked to developer operations. Prior to co-founding Observable, Burton served as senior vice president of product and service marketing at Oracle; was president of the corporate security and data management division of Symantec; led the EMC product group as president; and was director of marketing at Dell. Leverich was CTO at Splunk and Unterbrunner was a founding engineer at Snowflake.

“The company was founded, like Snowflake and Pure Storage, by Sutter Hill Ventures back in late 2017. The founding team was drawn from Splunk, Snowflake, Wavefront and Roblox,” Burton said. “All the founders had experience with huge amounts of data.”

Observe collects data from the company’s applications into “resources” such as users, sessions, support tickets, and software builds. Users can use the platform by asking questions about resources to see how they are related. In addition, they can track the state of each resource’s attributes (such as IP addresses) change over time and provide layers of abstraction on top of the data, including automatically generated dashboards and worksheets with spreadsheet-like interfaces.

Asked about the Observe’s data retention policy, Burton said the platform retains data for 13 months by default, but can shorten or extend that period depending on individual customer requirements. Customers can delete data upon request, and Burton maintains that the data is not used for any purpose other than surveillance.

Burton is aware of the competition in the rapidly growing surveillance solutions segment. Statistics estimates that the value of the sector will increase from $12.98 billion in 2020 to $19.38 billion in 2024. Data range is among startups offering surveillance products, as well as Elastic, DataDog, Splunk, and New Relic.

Burton argues that in addition to its analytical capabilities, the Observe’s pricing model sets it apart from other products on the market. Customers pay for request storage and processing, the first of which reflects the current price of Amazon S3, as well as processing fees as they become available. When requesting data, “Watch credits” are consumed based on usage.

“Observe breaks down data silos and provides teams with a single, consistent interface to troubleshoot issues an order of magnitude faster. Plus, with modern architecture, we can do it for a fraction of the cost,” Burton said.

The $70 million debt may not inspire huge confidence, but Burton says the strategy is to use the debt to increase the value of the Observe before it is converted to equity, while minimizing dilution. In an attempt to allay any investor concerns, he said the Observer’s annual contract is worth millions of dollars and that the company plans to increase its workforce from 80 to 150 by the end of the year.

The Observe currently has about 50 clients, Burton said, including Upstart Financial, OpenGov and Top Golf.

“This is especially important when you’re trying to solve really complex technical problems that could take three to four years to get to market,” Burton added, referring to debt.

Funding sources aside, the Observe will have to convince skeptical developers that its tool fixes some of the shortcomings of popular observation tools. In Dimensional Study poll, 79% of respondents indicated that the overall cost of monitoring and managing journals will increase dramatically in 2022 if current tools are not developed. Since there are eight months left in the year, we will need to see if this is the case.

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