Spreadsheet start-up Equals raises $16m to take on Excel

Founded by Intercom veterans Bobby Pinero and Irishman Ben McRedmond, Equals aims to modernise spreadsheets with built-in connections to databases, versioning and collaboration features.

Equals, a start-up looking to challenge Excel’s dominance in the spreadsheet market, has raised $16m in Series A funding.

The funding round was led by VC firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), with participation from existing investors Craft Ventures, Box Group, Worklife, and Combine.

New investors include the CEO of data transformation tool dbt, Tristan Handy, and former Slack chief product officer April Underwood.

Equals was founded last year by Bobby Pinero and Irishman Ben McRedmond, two Intercom veterans who helped scale the company’s customer engagement platform.

The San Francisco-based start-up said that the past decade has seen the emergence of “the modern data stack”, with data warehouses and spreadsheet alternatives. Despite the benefits, Equals said the variety of specialised tools can make analysis more complicated.

Equals said business teams still revert to the simple, effective power of spreadsheets for their meaningful business decisions.

“We built Equals out of a deep reverence for the spreadsheet,” Equals CEO Pinero said. “There’s a reason we all default to that interface: It’s the best canvas for working with data, but the category leader is 40 years old, and obviously wasn’t built with today’s workflows or databases in mind.”

Equals said its spreadsheets retain a familiar form while delivering key improvements in live data, unlocking new opportunities for more frequent, accurate analysis.

The start-up claims its spreadsheet software is the only one with built-in connections to databases, versioning and collaboration features.

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“We’re building the 3rd generation spreadsheet: one that works just like those that came before but fit for this era of work,” Equals said on its website.

The company plans to use the Series A funding to build out its research and development team and open its platform to the masses through a “freemium” offering.

As part of the latest funding round, a16z general partner Kristina Shen has joined the Equals board of directors. Shen said the past few years have been dominated by “verticalised tools and bandaid solutions to Excel” but said that approach falls short.

“I’m energised by the evidence that horizontal platforms are back, and I believe Equals is poised to be the seminal company that reimagines the spreadsheet for the modern era,” Shen said. “Obviously the ambition required to take on Excel is massive, and there’s no better team than Equals to take this on.”

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