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Exclusive: ThoughtSpot Gets Huge Funding to Expand its Google-Like Search For Corporate Data

May 8, 2018, 11:00 AM UTC

ThoughtSpot, a startup that helps companies sift their corporate data, has received $145 million in new funding

The investment, announced on Thursday, comes from new investor Sapphire Ventures and previous backers like Lightspeed Ventures, Khosla Ventures, General Catalyst, and the Australian Government Future Fund. The company has raised a total of $306 million since its founding in 2012.

CEO Ajeet Singh declined to disclose the company’s private valuation, but he said it is now worth over $1 billion. That would put ThoughtSpot among an elite group of so-called unicorn startups that are worth $1 billion or more.

ThoughtSpot sells both software and a device for data centers that companies use to connect their databases and other data repositories. After linking their different databases, companies can search their data much like they use Google.

Diamond company De Beers uses ThoughtSpot’s technology so that its non-technical employees, like the staff members who price diamonds, can better assess their value. They can get comparisons and pricing details of comparable diamonds without having to ask a data scientist to create a custom report based on the company’s data archive.

While the search interface is intended to be easy for non-techies, “under the hood we are doing very complex analytics” to show them the relevant numbers based on what employees might ask, Singh explained.

Like other enterprise technology companies, ThoughtSpot sells its services through annual subscriptions, with fees starting at around $70,000 to crunch and sort through about 250 gigabytes of data—the equivalent of about 25 high-definition movie files. It may seem pricey, Singh says, but it’s a “very small amount” compared to the $10 to $15 million that corporations many spend annually on data analytic technology.

Singh plans to use the new funding to hire more staff in North America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region, where the company lacks a sizeable presence. The goal is to attract more customers, refine its product, and prepare for a possible initial public offering within “the next few years,” Singh said.

“This should hopefully be our last private round,” Singh said.

The recent wave of enterprise companies going public hasn’t gone unnoticed to Singh or ThoughtSpot investors like Lightspeed Venture Partners founder and managing director Ravi Mhatre. Digital signature company DocuSign and workplace software company Smartsheet both went public in late April, for example.

Mhatre said that the recent enterprise technology IPOs represent a shift from “older” business technology giants like IBM and Hewlett Packard Enterprise to newer companies that Wall Street believes are “the new rising leaders who will take over from the legacy players.” For the record: HPE, through its Pathfinder venture capital arm, invested an unspecified amount of money in ThoughtSpot in 2016, showing that even older technology giants want to keep up with the newer, fast-growing startups.

ThoughtSpot is still unprofitable and will likely continue to be if and when it goes public. Singh explained that the company is spending cash to grow its business and that he doesn’t “want to build a $10 million company that’s profitable,” but would rather “be profitable later” when it’s presumably has a lot more revenue (the company doesn’t disclose its current sales).

Recent enterprise companies that have gone public, like online storage company Dropbox and Dell Technologies subsidiary Pivotal, are all unprofitable. But they are trimming their losses as they increase sales.

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Prior to ThoughtSpot, Singh co-founded data center hardware company Nutanix, which went public in 2016.