The Chance to Transform Another Industry: Why I Joined ThoughtSpot

I don’t consider myself an analytics expert, and in fact I’ve spent the last decade in fintech, so many people found it surprising when I decided to leave Square and join ThoughtSpot. In my career I’ve come to admire one thing the most - companies that have a very simple premise, but one that can change industries.

Look at LinkedIn - they took our contact book and put it online, changing the way we stay in touch and communicate with each other. Square made it possible for small businesses to accept digital payments, and then gave them elegant tools to grow their business, changing the payments industry. And at ThoughtSpot, I saw a similar pattern. We’re allowing people to ask questions of their data and to get answers in real time. A simple premise, but one that can change the way decisions are made, and create a more fact-driven world.

Like most great endeavors, solving this kind of problem isn’t easy. But it captured my imagination, and I’m thrilled to be joining ThoughtSpot as CFO to help us execute on this ambition.

So why’d I do it?

The Right Idea to Change a Massive Market

There’s no denying the analytics market is massive. Depending on which analyst firm you subscribe to, the total addressable market ranges anywhere from $70B to $100B in 2020 alone. But what creates the opportunity to build great companies is change. And the explosion of data and the advent of the cloud are fueling change in our industry. From new data sources to streaming data to data gathered from mobile devices, the amount of data humans as a species generates has skyrocketed in recent years. As more of these technologies go mainstream, this trend will only accelerate.

Instead of providing greater transparency, the explosion in data is creating noise. This is why our mission is so compelling. Organizations around the globe need instant access to data, and they need it in a way that allows for granularity at the speed of modern business.  AI and machine learning can help them find insights otherwise buried in data, and automate repetitive tasks to achieve true agility. And they want to do all of it in a way that’s accessible through a consumer-like experience.

The first time I saw ThoughtSpot in action, its purpose and capabilities immediately resonated with me. Having worked for two decades in finance and in payments - two very data-driven industries - my gut told me this is where the world is going. And I knew I had to be a part of bringing that technology to business users like me, to change the way decisions are made and business is conducted.

The Momentum is Real

Having a great idea and building some great demos is one thing. But in my conversations with Ajeet and Sudheesh, it became clear this was much more than just a great idea. There was real market traction here.

In the last year alone, the company basically doubled its valuation to $2B with it’s $248M Series E funding, opened new offices in places like Paris, Tokyo, San Francisco, and Singapore, added more than 200 new employees, and achieved a $100M annual run rate. These are incredible milestones that are rare in the enterprise software space, and speak to the fact that our capabilities are serving a true need in the market.

Ultimately, what creates a successful software company are its customers. I’ve never seen so many enterprise customers so excited about not just a product, but the kind of transformation a product can bring to a business. Household names like Walmart, Verizon, BT and Hulu are putting ThoughtSpot at the core of their business processes and seeing huge impact. So much so, most of our customers are now spending more than $250,000, a nearly unheard of sum in the enterprise tech startup world.

And I think they’re so excited because we don’t think of our customers as faceless corporations. We think about the people we are serving. We think about the CFO, and making her life easier through instant access to working capital data. We think about the GM and helping him make pricing decisions based on real-time trends. We think about the individuals and we are obsessed with enabling their success. It reminds of the passion that Square’s customers have for the brand and for its products. Square’s singular purpose was to help those small business owners succeed and grow (we used to say, “Help our sellers never miss a sale.”). If we can establish that kind of relationship with our customers, we will build something truly special in the enterprise software space.

The Right Mentality to Build a World Class Company

The idea for ThoughtSpot and obvious execution from the team were attractive, but the people and the shared purpose was something that really excited me

My joining ThoughtSpot was not just to execute an IPO and create an exit event. We are building a company for the long term. I was at PayPal during its second decade of existence; PayPal has longevity due to its leadership in growth markets like e-commerce, its truly global presence, and its strong business model. I see our team at ThoughtSpot taking a similar long term view to enable our growth for decades to come.

And these leaders are supported by an equally talented team. From folks with deep expertise in BI to people from the consumer world to those with track records growing other disruptive companies, ThoughtSpot has the team with the right mentality to take this growth even further.

Finally, the culture. ThoughtSpot’s culture of selfless excellence, where each person puts customers, the company, and their team above their own personal glory, is incredibly powerful, but it’s not something I’ve experienced so far in corporate America. In my management career, a quote I’ve shared with each team I’ve managed is one from President Harry Truman - “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” As a leader, this is something I practice, as I believe a leader brings out the best in those around them and serves their team. But I’ve never seen a company make it a central part of its culture until I joined ThoughtSpot.

As our cofounder Ajeet likes to say, we’re only 2% done. I can’t wait to work alongside all of you to get started on the 98%.