Careers at Birst


Birst’s mission is to redefine the way business intelligence (BI) is delivered and consumed, eliminating analytical silos to dramatically improve the speed, alignment, and economics of BI across the enterprise.

Founding story

Brad Peters and Paul Staelin were product leaders at Siebel. They helped build Siebel Analytics, a business intelligence solution which eventually became the platform for Oracle BI Enterprise Edition. The men were impressed by the power of enterprise-wide BI systems, but felt that the cost and complexity of implementing and maintaining them prevented widespread adoption.

In 2004 they founded Birst to solve this problem. It offered the first fully-integrated BI platform, with many capabilities including data integration, data aggregation, data analysis, data display, and data distribution. These were contained in a single platform and managed through an individual set of metadata. The solution provided a stark contrast to the fragmented offerings already on the market.

The platform was not only comprehensive, but easier to deploy. The team introduced techniques that made the development of analytical applications more automated, meaning that the process could occur more rapidly. At the time, most BI platform technologies took 9-, 12-, and 18-month timeframes for deployment, but Birst’s solution made that length unnecessary.

Because of its promise, Birst raised $10 million in an equity round in 2004. In 2009 it expanded the platform’s scope so anyone could develop generalized analytical apps. Its new patent-pending automated technology could quickly adapt to different use cases and datasets. The next few years saw more investments, including $26 million in 2012, $38 million in 2013, and $65 million in 2015.

Logo © by Hussain (Wikimedia Commons) under CC BY-SA 4.0

Benefits at Birst

Business model of Birst

Customer Segments

Birst has a mass market business model, with no significant differentiation between customer segments. The company targets its offerings at organizations of all industries and sizes.

Value Proposition

Birst offers three primary value propositions: convenience, performance, and brand/status.

The company offers convenience by making life simpler for clients. Its core solution has a cloud two-tier data architecture that sits on top of all data. One of the tiers plugs into existing data warehouses, data lakes, and applications, automating the data refining process and creating a single view for all of a client’s business users. The other tier provides a useful set of front-end tools that consists of dashboards, reports, mobile, and visual discovery.

The company demonstrates strong performance through tangible results. Specific positive outcomes for clients include the following:

  • American Express used Birst’s solution to complete in six months a deployment that would have likely taken eight years with a legacy BI product
  • A digital entertainment technology company used Birst’s solution to decrease time-to-value for new deployments from months to weeks
  • A capital markets firm used Birst’s solution to process 100 million records in two hours
  • A global energy management firm used Birst’s solution introduce an integrated BI platform that went live in less than two months
  • A major oil and gas exploration and production company used Birst’s solution to optimize profit margins and production forecasts across well sites, impacting millions of dollars a year

The company has established a strong brand due to its success. It has a number of prominent customers, including Toshiba, Reckitt Benckiser, American Express, Kellogg’s, and Citrix. It has also won many honors, including the following:

  • Recognition as a Leader in the Forrester Wave for Cloud Business Intelligence Platforms
  • Recognition as a Top Midmarket IT Vendor by CRN
  • Recognition as one of the Top 10 Cloud Analytic & BI Platforms by InformationWeek
  • Recognition as a Top 100 Analytics Startup by Forbes
  • Information Management Awards from Network World Asia
  • Recognition as one of the Hot 100 Software Companies by JMP Securities
  • A New Product Innovation Award from Frost & Sullivan
  • Recognition as one of the 20 Most Promising Big Data Companies by CIO Review
  • Recognition as one of the 100 Companies that Matter in Knowledge Management by KMWorld
  • Recognition as one of the 21 Enterprise Startups to Bet Your Career On by Business Insider


Birst’s main channel is its direct sales team. The company promotes its offerings through its website, social media pages, and participation in industry events as road shows and conferences.

Customer Relationships

Birst’s customer relationship is primarily of a personal assistance nature. The company assists customers in the following ways:

  • Support Services – The company provides general phone and e-mail support
  • Training Services – The company operates Birst University, a program through which it provides training on its products through in-person and online classes
  • Professional Services – The company assigns clients a Customer Success Team, with managers that assist with implementation, teach best practices in analytics, and provide ongoing account support

Despite this orientation, there is a self-service component. The company’s website features a “Resources” section that includes white papers, solution briefs, analyst reports, case studies, eBooks, RFP templates, demos, webinars, and videos. There is also a community element in the form of The Birst Community Think Tank, a forum where clients can interact with peers and experts.

Key Activities

Birst’s business model entails designing and developing its products for customers.

Key Partners

Birst maintains two types of partnerships:

  • Enterprise Partners – The company works with firms that integrate its solutions with clients‘ ecosystems; provide implementation support, training, and professional services to clients; help clients buy through the most appropriate channels; and define clients‘ long-term technology vision. Specific partners include Cervello, Thirdware, Acumen Solutions, StarPoint, EigenX, and Analytics8.
  • Technology Partners – The company works with technology firms that deliver business intelligence to its customers and ensure that the technology that runs its clients’ businesses works together. Specific partners include Tableau Software, Microsoft, Amazon, Exasol, Adobe, Salesforce, NetSuite, and SAP.

Key Resources

Birst’s main resources are its human resources, who include the engineers that design and develop its software, the sales employees that sell it, the training employees that provide instruction, and the customer service personnel that provide support.

It also depends on its human resources to ensure customer satisfaction, namely its staff of 1,600 employees. As a startup it has relied heavily on funding from investors, raising $129 million from five investors as of March 2015.

Cost Structure

Birst has a value-driven structure, aiming to provide a premium proposition through significant personal service and frequent service enhancements. Its biggest cost driver is likely cost of services, a variable expense.

Other major drivers are in the areas of sales/marketing and customer support/operations, both fixed costs.

Revenue Streams

Birst has one revenue stream: revenues it generates from the sale of its products to customers.

Our team

Jay Larson,

info: Jay earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Harvard University and an MBA at UCLA. He previously served as the President of Worldwide Field Operations at Jive Software, as Vice President of Enterprise Sales at SuccessFactors, and as a senior executive Mercury Interactive.

Brad Peters,
Founder, Chairman, and Chief Product Officer

info: Brad earned a B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UC Berkeley and an MBA at Harvard Business School. He previously served as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley in the New York M&A practice.

Paul Staelin,
Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer

info: Paul earned a B.S. at Yale, an M.S. in Electrical Engineering at MIT, and an MBA at Stanford University. He previously served as Co-Founder and President of emPower Corporation and worked at Sun Microsystems and PictureTel.

Rick Spickelmier,
Chief Technology Officer

info: Rick earned a BSEE at Oregon State University and a Ph.D. and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. He previously served as Senior Director of Technology at Geac and as CTO of Extensity.