A la mode

Data-centric GitHub-alike site in business with $2m injection

Lucy Carey

Data analytics hub Mode opens beta version of service for info crunching masses to share work and build a rep for themselves.


When Mode - a startup that bills itself as the “GitHub for data analysis” - initially launched last year, it faced a healthy dose of scepticism. In spite of all the hype over data science and the increasing capacity of real-time analytics tech to make the figures really talk, it’s still questionable whether now is really the most fertile moment to establish a business that caters exclusively for data-focused folks.

For starters, you’ve got a pretty niche audience to work with, and with the rise in analytics startups intent on creating visual interfaces that squeeze out data specialists altogether, it’s a vulnerable one. Regardless of these factors, Mode’s team has raised the $2 million in their latest funding round and set a beta version of their service live.This latest funding round was led by Formation8, along with a handful of other investors, including Panorama Point, Goldcrest and, notably, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian.

Co-founder and CEO Derek Steer’s big hope for Mode is that data analysts will be saved from re-inventing the wheel time and time again by making their work available to a much larger pool of people. The site is free for individual devs and data crunchers to use, and community-wide projects are open to all.

However, whilst they market their site as akin to the mighty ‘Hub in theory – for example, as with GitHub, users can sign up to a paid-for version that’s walled off from the general public, show off and discover work (including models, code, datasets, and the like) and generally build up a rep for themselves – in practice, Mode has some big differences to the San Francisco startup.

For starters, users can work on data straight from the browser, and any charts users create are embeddable. Additionally, ‘Yammer-like’ Mode can be connected to several big name databases and warehouses, and users can work on data with a SQL and visualization editor.

It’s this SQL focus that Steer thinks will ensure Mode is a success and open up the site’s appeal to a diverse audience. He explains that although the project is focused on technical people, “SQL’s not actually that technical” adding that, “Facebook teaches almost every person who walks through the door SQL.”

To replicate even a sliver of GitHub’s success, building up users – and fast – is going to be key. For Mode to be useful, it’s going to need to attain a critical mass of data scientists who actively use the site. Due to the targeted nature of data models, they’ll also need a huge upload base. Hopefully this latest cash injection should go some way to bolstering Mode’s reach, and save a sizable crew of data scientists a lot of valuable time down the line.

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