Data visualization, a graphical representation of information and data using visual elements like charts, graphs, and maps, makes complex concepts deceptively simple. However, data visualizations can be very difficult especially when you’re dealing with complex data sets. There are a dozen visualization tools out there that promised to make life easier for citizen data scientists. Some of these tools did a good job in some areas but failed to deliver in others.
One of the most popular data visualization tools I’ve used during my old life is Tableau, now owned by Salesforce. Tableau is generally used for business intelligence but required a steep learning curve for non-technical users. Until now, there hasn’t been a place on the web where people can code, collaborate, and share insights with the world.
Enter Observable, a San Francisco-based tech startup that touted itself as “the magic notebook for visualization.” Observable visualization platform enables people to create, collaborate, and learn with data.
Today, Observable announced that it is launching for developers, data scientists, journalists, educators, and more to explore, analyze, and visualize data on the web together. Observable was started by data pioneers and luminaries from Google, The New York Times, and D3.js. In conjunction with the launch, Observable also announced it has raised its $10.5M Series A funding led by Sequoia Capital and Acrew Capital. Since founded, Observable has powered data visualization and analysis on everything from elections to COVID-19 to enterprise dashboards.
Founded in 2016 by Google’s former longtime VP of Engineering, Melody Meckfessel, along with Mike Bostock, creator of D3.js and former NYT graphics editor, Observable’s community is made up of hundreds of thousands of developers, data scientists, data journalists, data hobbyists, students, teachers, and other humans working with data.
Observable Chief Technology Officer Mike Bostock created D3.js, the popular open-source library for data visualization, and was previously a Graphics Editor at The New York Times. Chief Executive Officer Melody Meckfessel, former VP of Engineering at Google, led large-scale data and developer teams to deliver successful outcomes for millions of users, instilling a passion around data innovation. Together, they’re helping everyone make sense of the world with data.
With more than 4.7 million users who have engaged on its platform, Observable has powered major data stories on topics from elections, to COVID-19, to wildfire air quality. Observable is helping organizations make better decisions with data, including teams at Stitch Fix and classes at MIT that are working in Observable every day.
“We are all experiencing the growth of data in the world. It’s overwhelming. Making sense of it is the biggest challenge facing our connected world,” said Meckfessel, “We believe working with data is an essential skill for everyone. Observable is here to help. It’s the first platform that allows anyone—from developers to academics to hobbyists—to explore and visualize data online together. We created Observable to help people from all different backgrounds become inspired, learn from each other, and make sense of data.”
With its web-first, interactive platform, Observable is democratizing data literacy and supporting those who want to understand and visualize data transparently in real-time. The platform empowers creators to further their learning through data visualization and, ultimately, gain deeper insights. To support its users, Observable has the largest library of reusable visualizations anywhere.
“Melody and Mike are a dream team positioned to reinvent visualization. Melody’s gifts in leading the developer community with simplicity and Mike’s linguistic design thinking for visualization combine the best of both worlds,” said Jim Goetz, partner at Sequoia and Observable board member. “Ultimately, Melody, Mike, and the Observable team are bringing data exploration and visualization to the web, making it more accessible, collaborative, and effective.”
Observable reimagines data visualization for the connected world, making it more approachable and social. In a world where more than 76% of the global workforce is not fully confident in the ability to read, work with, analyze, and argue with data. Creators can join Observable for free to work on data visualization projects, growing their skills with a vibrant community.