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Metabase at

  • Alien Labs uses Metabase with their application database and interaction event data
  • Engineers use Metabase’s SQL interface while their designer and product person uses the GUI query builder and reuses SQL reports.
  • Commonly asked questions include
    • “What were the most active users?”
    • “What commands did they run?”
    • Looking up customers’ activity when they call into support with a problem.

The Company

Alien Labs is a four-person startup in San Francisco. They make Pogo, a bot that helps keep track of your links, documents and messages in Slack.

Why Metabase?

In what is becoming a common (and highly advisable!) pattern, Alien Labs had set up a data warehouse very early in the company’s history. Since they were a bot company, there were not a lot of off-the-shelf analytics tools they could use. In evaluating a number of options, they eventually found Metabase, which was a “different flavor of software” compared to the more enterprise-y feeling alternatives.

The Data

Alien Labs was using Segment and a Segment warehouse to store their interaction data, and had piped in their application data via Stitch. To keep things manageable, they did very little in the way of transforming data in their data warehouse.

The Questions

Alien Labs has over a dozen dashboards, hundreds of saved questions, and queries specific to their application domain as a bot platform. Most queries are still written by Alien Labs co-founder, Mircea Pașoi, and he and other engineers primarily use the SQL interface. However, the GUI interface is increasingly being used by non-technical coworkers.

They ask questions like “what kinds of words do people use in communicating with the bot?”, “what were the most active users?”, and “what commands did they run?’”.

Metabase is also proving useful in helping to deliver a high level of customer support. When an Alien Labs user has a problem, Metabase makes it easy to look up what the customer had been doing, as well as all the other information collected about that customer, all in one place.

Every major product launch is accompanied by a dashboard so the team can follow its progress, test assumptions about usage, and track engagement, on-boarding and activation.

Mircea’s advice

Alien Labs isn’t Mircea’s first startup, having previously founded Summify which was then acquired by Twitter. His advice to other companies is succinct and on point:

“Every company should centralize all the data into a data warehouse and every company should have something on top of this data warehouse.”