ThoughtSpot scores $248M funding as it tilts at Salesforce, Tableau

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Sunnyvale-based data analytics startup ThoughtSpot raised $248 million at a valuation of $1.95 billion. Shown here are CEO Sudheesh Nair (left) and Executive Chairman Ajeet Singh at a company conference.

Weeks after Salesforce Inc. completed its $15.7 billion acquisition of Tableau Software Inc., a Sunnyvale unicorn has raised $248 million to help in its efforts to be the leader of the next generation of data analytics software.

Sunnyvale-based ThoughtSpot Inc. is led by a co-founder and a former president of San Jose-based cloud computing software business Nutanix Inc.

Their new company nearly doubled its valuation to $1.95 billion in the new round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. Sapphire Ventures, Silver Lake Waterman and Geodesic Capital also participated. ThoughtSpot has now raised a total of $554 million since it was founded in 2012.

“We still have $100 million from our last round of funding,” CEO Sudheesh Nair told the Business Journal. “But the problem that we are trying to solve and the market that we are going after is so massive that it will take time and resources. All of us know that the macro economy won’t continue to expand as it has, so the timing was right to raise this money and it was the most prudent thing for us to do.”

The capital ThoughtSpot has now amassed allows it to consider growth through acquisitions, Nair said.

“We know there will be other entrepreneurs with good ideas and good execution,” he said. “There will be opportunities for us to make some tactical and some long-term acquisition plays.”

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The funding will also be used to accelerate global growth and build up the team needed for that, he said. ThoughtSpot’s workforce has grown by about 65 percent to 500 employees in the past year and it moved into a new headquarters earlier this year. Nair said he expects to continue hiring at a similar clip.

More than half of the Fortune 500 now use ThoughtSpot software, he said, including Walmart, 7Eleven and Rolls Royce. The company said its sales have nearly tripled in the first half of the year to a run rate that is rapidly approaching $100 million.

It has a long way to go to match Tableau’s revenue, which in the last quarter alone was more than triple the $100 million annual run rate that Thoughtspot says that it is nearing. But Nair and Singh said they believe their company in time will be at that scale.

“We started ThoughtSpot to make data and insights available instantly to everyone in an enterprise, regardless of their technical skills,” co-founder and Executive Chairman Ajeet Singh said. “We know we’re only 2 percent done in achieving our goals so we will not rest on our laurels and will continue to bring fundamental innovation to the market.”

The data analytics market is very crowded, he said, but much of the existing technology has grown old.

“When we started in 2012, Tableau and Qlik were clearly the leaders,” Singh said. “But we realized that data analytics is not just a visualization problem. It is also a user experience problem. Tools like Tableau are built for analysts and Excel jockeys.”

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ThoughtSpot focused on building its analytics tools to be simple enough for merchants, HR managers or a salesperson on the street to use.

“Our thesis has proven to be quite right and data visualization has become commoditized,” he said. “We think the industry is ready for the next wave of innovation.”

Tech research firm Gartner Inc. said in April that the analytics and business intelligence software market grew by 11.7 percent to $21.6 billion in 2018.

Nair and Singh said an IPO is still a ways off, as ThoughtSpot continues to build its business and reputation.

“We have only been selling for a couple of years now so we want to build some more history and show what we can do,” Nair said. “But an IPO is definitely something we need to do in the future.”

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ThoughtSpot scores $248M funding as it tilts at Salesforce, Tableau

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