Airbyte was founded by Michel and John in December 2019.

Our first idea was to help companies exchange data, starting by building a customer portal for data providers so their clients can easily evaluate and pull data however and wherever they want.

During our time at YC, we pivoted to a data unblocking product which allowed website owners to get 100% of their customer traffic data for analytics, even when visitors are using ad blockers. The product was getting good traction until COVID-19 hit, and marketing priorities shifted, making this product a nice-to-have rather than a must.

At the time, we were meeting with a lot of companies. As we were discussing their data problems, a pattern started to emerge. All were building in some way their own data integration pipelines, even though there were already strong cloud-based solutions for it. We understood that data integration was not a solved problem. So we decided to go back to our roots, making moving data easy and address this issue.

There are more and more data products out there, event-based customer data pipelines a la Segment and batch data ingestion pipelines a la Fivetran. But they are cloud-based and entail moving your data out of your infrastructure. In addition to adding unnecessary costs, this poses a data privacy risk for more and more companies. In the end, engineers end up having to develop and maintain these connections themselves.

That’s why we decided to build Airbyte, a new self-hosted, open-source data integration engine.

Open sourcing the core engine is a prerequisite to building a top class engine so that anyone can add their own integrations and extend the project with the features that serve their use cases.

And that’s how we started!