ThoughtSpot adds GPT-3 integration to help customers query data

So far this week we’ve seen generative AI come to CRM from Salesforce and to customer service chatbots from Forethought – and that’s just the ones I’ve covered personally. Today, we look at ThoughtSpot’s generative AI entry, which lets you query your data using natural language to get text or a graph back, as appropriate, with the correct response.

This is an approach that Thoughtspot has been working towards for years. In 2019, when I spoke to the company on the occasion of its $248 million Series E – at the time the company was valued at $1.95 billion – it was already using AI to turn plain language queries like ‘what is the best selling shoe in Portland’ into SQL behind the scenes and delivering an answer.

That’s not altogether that different from what it’s announcing today, but now it’s relying on GPT-3 to allow users to enter a query and similarly get a result. It just took some time for the technology to catch up with the vision.

“We always wanted to build a pure natural language intent-driven interface. In fact, I can tell you four years ago, we had a project internally to build our own large language model. We paused that because we knew that when the public large language model capabilities came on tap, we would be able to put it on top [of our our products] and deliver the best, most flexible, highly accurate platform – and that’s what we have done,” ThoughtSpot CEO Sudeesh Nair told TechCrunch.

Perhaps the biggest criticism of ChatGPT is that it sometimes gives the wrong answer, yet it is essential for Thoughtspot to deliver an accurate answer when using the technology to query data. In this regard, the company takes advantage of the GPT-3 API to help translate the natural language into SQL, but it also adds its own layer to make sure it delivers the single correct answer because with data there isn’t room for error.

“This is why while large language models make sense, making them trustworthy for business computing, for database queries, is a complete game changer and…we have actually built the stack differently to deliver accuracy and trust at scale at large companies,” Nair said.

The company understands that no matter how hard they try, they won’t always get it right, so they have also built in a feedback loop to let them know when they made a mistake, either through inaccuracy, or the customer presenting the data differently from how the algorithm does.

The user can change the way it measures something by editing the query, or give a thumbs up or thumbs down, based on the response, and the program can use this feedback to fine-tune answers in the future.

Different types of AI come into play, both when the user is asking the question and Thoughtspot is retrieving and generating the answer. What’s more, Thoughtspot AI can help companies data experts build customized data models for their source data.

The company was founded in 2012 and has raised over $660 million, per Crunchbase. A private beta of the new integration with GPT-3 opens today.

ThoughtSpot adds GPT-3 integration to help customers query data by Ron Miller originally published on TechCrunch

As 5 more startups join the $100M club, are we just making a pre-IPO list?

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.

Today we’re adding five names to the $100 million annual recurring revenue (ARR) club and listing all preceding members in a single post. This series, which was a bit of an accident, if I’m being honest, has included more than a dozen companies that have reached $100 million ARR, along with a handful more that are close.

Today we’re adding Seismic, ThoughtSpot, Noom, Riskified and Moveable Ink to the list. As always, we have funding histories, growth metrics and interviews below on the new group. But at this juncture, as we head toward the two-dozen company mark, it’s a good time to ask, what is this list that we’re compiling?

At first, the goal of the jokingly-named “$100 million ARR club” was to highlight companies that were of real scale, an idea designed to gently push back against the “unicorn” moniker. As more and more unicorns were born and the private-capital world became adept at getting startups of all maturity levels over the requisite $1 billion valuation threshold, the term began to feel too diluted to have much signaling value.

While, in contrast, $100 million in ARR felt much more “hard” to the valuation metric’s comparable squishiness. But, since that first post, more and more companies have written in, sharing hard metrics and the series has continued. Perhaps we’re really just compiling an IPO watchlist, a grouping of firms that will probably go (or should go) public in the next 18 months.

Let’s dig into our new additions. Then, we’ll list all our prior entrants with links to our preceding coverage in case you are playing catch up. With that, here’s the entire $100 million ARR club a list of companies that we think could go public inside the next six quarters.

The future of cybersecurity VC investing with Lightspeed’s Arif Janmohamed

There are two types of enterprise startups: those that create value and those that protect value. Cybersecurity is most definitely part of the latter group, and as a vertical, it has sprawled the past few years as the scale of attacks on companies, organizations, and governments has continuously expanded.

That may be a constant threat for the executives of major companies, but for cybersecurity VCs who pick the right startup targets for investment, it’s a potential gold mine. Here at Extra Crunch, we compiled a list of top VCs who have invested in cybersecurity and enterprise more broadly and asked them what’s interesting in the space these days. We compiled ten of their responses as part of our investor survey and you should definitely take a look for their interesting takes on the space.

But we wanted to go a bit deeper on the topic to learn more about what’s happening right now in cybersecurity. So today, we talk with Arif Janmohamed of Lightspeed Venture Partners, one of the leading investors at one of the top enterprise VC firms in the world. He’s invested in companies ranging from cloud-access security broker Netskope and search analytics platform ThoughtSpot to Qubole (big data analytics), Nutanix (hyper-converged infrastructure), and (cyber risk management).

Arif head color web

Arif Janmohamed. Image via Lightspeed Venture Partners

TechCrunch’s security guru Zack Whittaker, managing editor Danny Crichton and operations editor Arman Tabatabai sat down with him to discuss what he’s seeing at the earliest stages in cybersecurity, which trends are being ignored by the industry and what he sees as the future of security in an always-changing present.

Introduction and Background

The following interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Danny Crichton: Let’s start with a bit of your background.

Arif Janmohamed: Sure. I’m on the early-stage side, so I have the most fun when I’m working with founders at the very earliest stages of company formation, where I can focus on company design, product and go-to-market and then find the right balance of teams to fill that out.

I’m on the board of Netskope, which is a cloud-security company. That one I did the Series B back in 2013. I’m on the board of TripActions, which is a corporate travel company, I did that one and then led the Series A and the Series B. I’m on the board of Moveworks, which is an AI engine for IT that was seeded by me and then I’ve supported them through their subsequent financing. I’m also on the board of a number of other companies.

Am I purely security-focused? The answer is no, I’m very much enterprise-focused. Security in my mind really fits within that rubric of the enterprise stack that’s getting rebuilt for a cloud-first world.

What’s snake oil and what has real value?

Zack Whittaker: So I’ve got a question that I just want to jump right in with. I’m always curious about this, especially when it comes to the very early stage, how do you go about distinguishing between potential snake oil and the things that seem really viable in the security world?

ThoughtSpot hauls in $248M Series E on $1.95B valuation

ThoughtSpot was started by a bunch of ex-Googlers looking to bring the power of search to data. Seven years later the company is growing fast, sporting a fat valuation of almost $2 billion and looking ahead to a possible IPO. Today it announced a hefty $248 million Series E round as it continues on its journey.

Investors include Silver Lake Waterman, Silver Lake’s late-stage growth capital fund along with existing investors Lightspeed Venture Partners, Sapphire Ventures and Geodesic Capital. Today’s funding brings the total raised to $554 million, according to the company.

The company wants to help customers bring speed to data analysis by answering natural language questions about the data without having to understand how to formulate a SQL query. As a person enters questions, ThoughSpot translates that question into SQL, then displays a chart with data related to the question, all almost instantly (at least in the demo).

It doesn’t stop there though. It also uses artificial intelligence to understand intent to help come up the exact correct answer. ThoughtSpot CEO Sudheesh Nair says that this artificial intelligence underpinning is key to the product. As he explained, if you are looking for the answer to a specific question like ‘What is the profit margin of red shoes in Portland?” there won’t be multiple answers. There is only one answer, and that’s where artificial intelligence really comes into play.

“The bar on delivering that kind of answer is very high and because of that, understanding intent is critical. We use AI for that. You could ask, ‘How did we do with red shoes in Portland?’ I could ask, ‘What is the profit margin of red shoes in Portland?’ The system needs to know that we both are asking the same question. So there’s a lot of AI that goes behind it to understand the intent,” Nair explained.

image 10

Image: ThoughtSpot

ThoughtSpot gets answers to queries by connecting to a variety of internal systems like HR, CRM and ERP and uses all of this data to answer the question as best it can. So far, it appears to be working. The company has almost 250 large company customers, and is on a run rate of close to $100 million.

Nair said that the company didn’t necessarily need the money with $100 million still in the bank, but he saw an opportunity, and he seized it. He says the money gives him a great deal of flexibility moving forward including the possibility of acquiring companies to fill in missing pieces or to expand the platform’s capabilities. It also will allow him to accelerate growth. Plus, he sees the capital markets possibly tightening next year and he wanted to strike while the opportunity was in front of him.

Nair definitely sees the company going public at some point. “With these kind of resources behind us, it actually opens up an opportunity for us to do any sort of IPO that we want. I do think that a company like this will benefit from going public because Global 2000 kind of customers, where we have our most of our business, appreciate the transparency and the stability represented by public companies,” he said.

He added, “And with $350 million in the bank, it’s totally [possible to] IPO, which means that a year and a half from now if we are ready to take the company public, we can actually have all options open including a direct listing, potentially. I’m not saying we will do that, but I’m saying that this kind of funding behind us, we have all those options open.”