Mode, a collaborative analytics platform focused on empowering data scientists, just landed $23 million in fresh funding

Mode, a five-year-old collaborative analytics platform based in San Francisco, has raised $23 million in Series C funding led by Valor Equity Partners.

Foundation Capital and REV Venture Partners, which had led Mode’s Series A and B financing rounds, respectively, also joined the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $50 million.

In some ways, the investment is a bet on the continuing need for data scientists, despite the many companies that are focused on making data analysis available and understandable to a broader swath of employees, like Snowflake and BigQuery.

The way Mode co-founder and CEO Derek Steer sees it, owing to today’s tools, organizations may need fewer data scientists. But they need also to better empower those individuals to effectively answer key questions, like how clients are using their product. Mode does this through an integrated SQL editor, Python, R notebooks and visualization builder that it says give users the flexibility to choose the level of abstraction they want for a given data set.

The new round is also very much a bet on Steer, says David Obrand, a partner at Valor who is joining the board, and who worked previously with Steer at Yammer, the enterprise-level social networking site that was acquired by Microsoft in 2012.

Obrand, who was Yammer’s chief customer officer, credits Steer as “key in accelerating [Yammer’s] path as a data-driven business.” He further sees Steer as “embodying the persona of the customer he’s serving.”

As importantly, at Yammer, Steer learned how to build a “freemium” software business that’s adopted by an organization after a small set of employees begins actively using its free version. Indeed, Mode’s playbook is much the same, giving data scientists access to a free product called Mode Studio with the hope that, for many, it will become core to their workflow, and they’ll then ask decision-makers across the organization to use it.

That plan appears to be working. Steer tells us 600 organizations now pay for Mode, including Twitch, Lyft, Shopify, Meredith and Conde Nast. (Another 2,000 companies are using its free product.)

Right now, the company is targeting enterprises with up to 5,000 seats. It also caters largely to a U.S. audience. But with its new capital, the company plans to expand geographically, including hiring employees outside of San Francisco for the first time. Steer suggests to expect new features. And the company plans to expand each of its departments, focusing on its community efforts, in particular.