From Overload to Oversight: Announcing the Acryl & 8VC Partnership

Jun 22, 2023

It’s hardly news that we’re living in an era of information overload, with an unrelenting explosion in data volume, complexity, and fragmentation - most of it by popular demand. As user personas have multiplied, new tools and systems of record have cropped up faster than they can be managed. Despite massive data growth, there’s an increasingly acute shortage of data discoverability and transparency. Simply determining what lives where is surprisingly difficult. Perhaps most worrisome, the downstream consequences of data misplacement and breaking changes extend far and wide. 

Enter Acryl Data, a company formed to solve the defining problems of data unification and discovery. Acryl is built on DataHub, the fastest-growing and most popular open source data catalog, and cofounded by Shirshanka Das, DataHub’s creator, along with former Airbnb data and search platform head Swaroop Jagadish. Acryl’s solution is a powerful, cloud-native data management and workflow platform, enriched by the thriving DataHub community. By illuminating the darkest corners of the data landscape, at the right wavelength for each use case, Acryl restores unified control to central data teams, while catering to technical and business users alike.

Above all, Acryl is optimized for real-world practitioners, along with speed, extensibility and scale. Whereas earlier data catalogs were primarily focused on data consumers and post hoc, manual curation, Acryl Cloud facilitates a 360-degree view of each data asset and proactively suggests data optimizations (i.e. flagging duplicates or unused data assets). Furthermore, it supports a "shift left" approach, whereby data producers can programmatically enrich business and technical metadata from their developer workflow, enabling decentralized data development. As an event-oriented platform, Acryl Cloud can safely trigger downstream workflows and policy assertions, allowing data teams to stay ahead of potential issues.

That real-world focus extends to data accessibility, integration and quality. Acryl connects to data sources in minutes, slashing time to value and migration costs. And today, Acryl announced their newest functionality highlight: Acryl Observe, a module for real-time data quality monitoring and expedited incident resolution.

Acryl’s architecture, design, and data modeling approaches likewise promote both broad and deep utility. Acryl is cloud-native and designed to seamlessly integrate with multi-cloud ecosystems, making metadata management more ubiquitous and efficient. It features sophisticated APIs that ensure that developers’ needs are elevated to the same tier as users’. Given the degree to which IT is decentralized and outsourced, a metadata platform cannot take an opinionated view of how a whole enterprise’s data model should look, and Acryl empowers data owners to define their own categories and hierarchies without rigid, centralized management. 

Acryl has systematically transformed some of the most painful gaps in data management into strengths: 

  • From being unable to locate data assets, to quickly discovering the most important ones.
  • From lacking human-interpretable data categorization, to creating taxonomies for every data owner and domain, across new and legacy data sources.
  • From accruing exorbitant cloud costs due to large, unused data assets, to proactively deleting or optimizing them.
  • From fragmented, improperly shared data, to native data contracts with support for quality guarantees, SLAs, and permission checks.
  • From duplicative or inconsistent representations of the same data across different organizational silos, to promoting standardization and stewardship.

From the beginning, Acryl has tied its strategy to building on the DataHub project, which they continue to actively drive. This relationship has both elevated DataHub through advanced features, and provided a compelling model for enterprise adoption of OSS. Today, DataHub is the fastest-growing open source data catalog, with a community of almost 8,000 data practitioners on Slack and nearly 400 code contributors. DataHub is deployed at over 1,000 enterprises, including names as diverse and prominent as Stripe, Pinterest, and Optum. Meanwhile, Acryl has enjoyed surging customer adoption, becoming the preferred data management solution for data-first companies such as Notion, Zendesk, Riskified, and MYOB.

Only an extraordinary team could simplify such complex challenges into one elegant solution. Acryl's founders, Shirshanka Das (CTO) and Swaroop Jagadish (CEO), supply a treasury of enterprise and open source experiences, and the ingenuity to apply them to this problem space. Shirshanka is the creator of DataHub, and as architect of LinkedIn's GDPR Strategy, was responsible for some of the most complex aspects of data governance, including data retention, deletion, and access. Swaroop was previously the Head of Data Platform at Airbnb, and oversaw the development of such products as Airbnb Dataportal, a data discovery application, and the acclaimed open-source projects Apache Airflow and Apache Superset. 8VC Partner Bhaskar “BG” Ghosh worked extensively with Shirshanka and Swaroop as the founding head of LinkedIn’s data infrastructure group, where both were senior engineers. Their reunion marks an opportunity to get the band back together, while playing to even bigger arenas. 

Today, Acryl announced its Series A financing, led by 8VC. Our involvement reflects our conviction in Swaroop and Shirshanka and the exceptional product and team they have built, in an area central to our firm’s enterprise infrastructure software thesis. Unchecked growth in data scale and complexity, compounded by constant unbundling and fragmentation of tools, have strained data teams as never before. Acryl is charting a much-needed, bold and refreshing new direction, bringing order to chaos while serving a diverse user base. Like the best companies, they influence or accelerate all parts of the data stack, along with products used daily by data practitioners, in a journey towards simplification and democratization.

In the words of co-founder/CTO Shirshanka Das, “We are building an open control plane for data powered by DataHub, which will allow central teams to take back control of their fragmented data stacks, while enabling technical and business users to collaborate on building world-class data products.” This may sound lofty, yet it understates the true scope of what Acryl is building, and its potential to tame not only enterprise data, but also the elaborate systems, standards, and protocols that have developed around it. We could not be more excited to support Acryl in this most timely and compelling mission.

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