CNBC Disruptor 50

46. Airtable

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Founders: Howie Liu (CEO), Andrew Ofstad, Emmett Nicholas
Launched: 2012
Headquarters: San Francisco
Funding:
$625 million (PitchBook)
Valuation: $5.7 billion (PitchBook)
Key technologies:
Cloud computing
Industry:
Enterprise technology
Previous appearances on Disruptor 50 List: 1 (No. 36 in 2019)

Persephone Kavallines

It's becoming clear in the world of work that if everyone doesn't need to be a coder, a little coding knowledge can still go a long way in helping every employee and their organization migrate to an increasingly digital business environment.

That's where companies like Airtable come in, leading what is called a low-code — sometimes even called no-code — revolution in the way new applications are built well beyond the tech sector, such as in financial services, oil and gas, utilities, and industrials. The fast-growing code-for-everyone-else approach allows professionals who aren't fluent in Java or Python, and don't have their desk buried deep within the stack, to play a part in rethinking and remaking the consumer and client digital experience.

The low-code movement has attracted an even higher level of attention as a result of the pandemic, during which organizations from hospitals to government entities and corporations have had to develop online offerings at a faster pace than ever expected and for new use cases.

As more companies permanently migrate to the cloud, the mega-cap tech companies are planting their flags in this area, with Amazon Web Services launching its own low-code platform last year, Google buying no-code start-up AppSheet, and Microsoft's suite of Power Apps. Even Apple owns a low-code company (though many don't know it), called Claris.

While most people don't think of themselves as coders, anyone who has ever used a formula in an Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheet has already done the most basic kind of coding. Airtable co-founder and CEO Howie Liu's mission is to make the complex world of software more user friendly, with no coding background required to build apps and workflows. Specifically, the company allows customers to create spreadsheets with cells that can accommodate photos and lists, not just numbers.

In March, Airtable raised another $270 million led by existing investor Greenoaks Capital. Clients include Netflix and Shopify, as well as more than 250,000 companies, including a good portion of the Fortune 500.

Contributed by Eric Rosenbaum

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