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Think Big. Move Fast.

Business Intelligence (BI) is the gift that keeps on giving. For years, startups have popped up, promising better insights and faster decision making capabilities, consistently resulting in new waves of highly valued companies. Take a look at the past decade, which has seen massive consolidation as well as a hot new set of public companies. For example, SAP snapped up Business Objects for $6.8B in 2009, IBM acquired Cognos for $5B in 2008, and Oracle acquired Hyperion for $3.3B in 2007. The most recent set of public BI companies include upstarts such as Tableau, Qlikview, and Splunk which each captured the markets’ imagination with promises of Big Data and Analytics.

Increasingly, BI has been recognized as a strategic tool by the world’s most successful and nimble enterprises which run their businesses on metrics and use BI tools to rapidly make data-driven decisions.

However, despite the steady progress in technology, there is still a problem with BI. The status quo remains a complicated mess of reports and dashboards coupled with a very IT-centric approach to serving, accessing, and exploring data. Despite the incumbent vendors’ promises of “speed of thought decision-making” and “democratization of data,” a user’s ability to ask questions of her data is still impacted by IT’s ability to manipulate the data tools. Put simply, no one has solved the problem of letting a business user directly search and ask questions of her data. And as a business analyst will quickly tell you, the more questions you can ask, the better insights you get!

Take a second to think about your life on the web. When we have a question to ask of the internet’s wisdom, we turn to Google and have millions of answers in less than half a second. However, when we have an answer to ask of our corporate data that falls outside the existing data schema, we turn to IT. And then we wait. And wait. And days or weeks later, we may have an answer.

It is this massive gap between the power of web search and the inflexibility of corporate BI that led Ajeet Singh and Amit Prakash, the founders of ThoughtSpot, to sense an opportunity. They asked themselves the audacious question: why not bring the elegance and speed of the Google search experience to the enterprise? Specifically, why not build a simple, clean interface that users can easily understand, paired with the performance and flexibility of an in-memory, scale-out database appliance?

This is a big idea and a huge technical challenge. But, Ajeet and Amit are no strangers to big ideas. Ajeet was a co-founder at Nutanix, one of the fastest growing enterprise infrastructure companies of the past decade, and Amit was a founding engineer of Microsoft Bing’s Search team and then spent many years at Google, leading technical teams in the AdSense Analytics group.

To tackle this huge challenge would require bringing together a cross-functional team of world class engineers, designers, and architects to take on a problem that no startup had yet attempted. Ajeet and Amit set out to build one of the valley’s best engineering teams. They recruited as jr co-founders Shashank Gupta, Vijay Ganesan, Sanjay Agrawal, Priyendra Deshwal and Abhishek Rai – technical stars from Microsoft, Oracle, Google, who have made significant contributions to technology such as Google’s Search Index, Google’s Project Borg, Google’s Ads Database, Microsoft’s SQL Server, and Oracle’s BI-in-the-cloud. And they raised $10.7M from Lightspeed and a number of strategic angels to finance building the product.

Fast forward 18 months and, today, ThoughtSpot unveiled their Data Search Appliance, a revolutionary way for business users to search, analyze, and explore their data. Designed for enterprises, the appliance is scalable, secure, and elastic, with the performance and intuitive experience you’d expect when asking questions of Google.

At Lightspeed, we’re extremely excited about our partnership with the ThoughtSpot team as they rethink business intelligence for the enterprise and bring the power of search to business data. For more information about ThoughtSpot’ launch, visit www.thoughtspot.com.


Follow me on Twitter at @arifj