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ThoughtSpot makes first acquisition, buys SeekWell

ThoughtSpot reached an agreement to acquire SeekWell on Wednesday, a move that will enable the analytics vendor to deliver insights to users in their workflows via SQL.

ThoughtSpot revealed on Wednesday that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire SeekWell, marking the first acquisition in the analytics vendor's history.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

ThoughtSpot, founded in 2012 and based in Sunnyvale, Calif., is an analytics vendor whose platform is built on augmented intelligence and machine learning to enable customers to easily search and interact with their data using natural language processing.

SeekWell, meanwhile, is a startup analytics vendor founded in 2018 and based in Wilmington, Del., with a platform -- as its name suggests -- that uses SQL code to query data and deliver insights and updated data sets to users back in the business applications where they work and their data originated.

In essence, SeekWell reverses the extract, load and transform process and returns processed data back to its origin, according to co-founder and CEO Michael Ritchie.

Once the capabilities of the vendors are integrated, customers will be able to use ThoughtSpot's existing natural language search tools to extract data from their cloud data warehouses for analysis, and then with SeekWell's technology automatically sync insights based on the analyzed data back to business applications such as Salesforce and Google Sheets where the data first originated.

This is the missing piece.
Sudheesh NairCEO, ThoughtSpot

Rather than being one-directional with data created, captured, stored and then analyzed, the addition of SeekWell effectively will make ThoughtSpot bi-directional, according to ThoughtSpot.

Before the acquisition of SeekWell, ThoughtSpot added capabilities largely through partnerships.

"This is the missing piece," said Sudheesh Nair, CEO of ThoughtSpot. "In the cloud, when you report the data, gather insights, predict the future and then act, the system of record where the data was extracted out of has been modified, and if you don't bring the data back to the system of record, things get broken. If you don't want to break it, you have to close the loop, and SeekWell closes the loop."

While the acquisition will enable ThoughtSpot customers to deliver transformed data back to its point of origin, it will also enable SeekWell to build out its capabilities more quickly than it could on its own.

"We want to build SeekWell much faster than the rate we were going before and partnering with ThoughtSpot was by far the fastest way for us to grow," Ritchie said.

A graphic from ThoughtSpot displays how its acquisition of SeekWell will make data more consistent.
ThoughtSpot says its acquisition of SeekWell will enable users to be more confident in the quality of their data.

Given the added ability to sync transformed data as well as insights back to business applications in which business users do their work, the acquisition of SeekWell is significant for ThoughtSpot, according to Dave Menninger, research director of data and analytics research at Ventana Research.

The capabilities added by the acquisition will enable business users to take data-driven action within their workflows.

"For decades, analytics has been read-only," Menninger said. "The process of acting on the results of analytics has been left to the reader. We are beginning to see analytics vendors recognize this shortcoming and offer some solutions. There is still a long way to go, but at least there is recognition that analysis should lead to action."

He added that ThoughtSpot won't be the first analytics vendor to push insights to business users, but whether from ThoughtSpot or another vendor, the capability is relatively new and needs refinement.

"A few other vendors are beginning to offer similar capabilities, but it's still very early and all analytics vendors need to continue to invest in these types of capabilities," Menninger said.

Although fully integrating SeekWell into ThoughtSpot will take time, in concert with revealing the acquisition itself, ThoughtSpot unveiled sample use cases for SeekWell's capabilities that customers can take advantage of immediately.

They include:

  • marketing, where customers can build hyper-targeted segments to automate with apps such as Facebook Audiences;
  • sales, with users able to automate custom lead scoring models and sync them to sales apps including Salesforce; and
  • support, where customers can prioritize tickets from their most valuable clients in apps such as Zendesk.

Meanwhile, that ThoughtSpot is acquiring a company for the first time is also significant, according to Menninger.

ThoughtSpot, which has been rumored to be planning an initial public offering since it secured $248 million in Series E funding in 2019, has been working to reposition itself over the past year. Initially targeting an on-premises audience when it was founded, the cloud is now the vendor's main priority. It introduced ThoughtSpot Cloud in September 2020, formed deep partnerships with Snowflake and Microsoft Azure, and even sold a $20 million equity stake to Snowflake on March 9.

The acquisition, Menninger said, can be viewed as a sign ThoughtSpot's stakeholders are pleased with the direction in which the company is headed.

"Any time a venture-backed startup makes an acquisition, even if it is small, it's an indication that the board and the investors have confidence in the company," he said. "Acquisitions are not easy. The process of combining the companies and integrating the technology can be distracting. So if the board approves, it's usually an endorsement of both the acquiring company and the target."

With the acquisition of SeekWell, ThoughtSpot will inherit about 140 paying enterprise customers, which encompass hundreds of weekly active users and thousands of monthly active users. In addition, the acquisition will expose ThoughtSpot to a new audience of data analysts who write code, according to Nair.

Ritchie, meanwhile, will join ThoughtSpot to help develop and push out ThoughtSpot Everywhere, which is an embedded BI capability now in preview. ThoughtSpot did not specify Ritchie's new title.

And while the acquisition of SeekWell is a first for ThoughtSpot, Nair said it likely won't be the last. Nair joined ThoughtSpot in 2018, and after fortifying ThoughtSpot's finances in 2019 and making the vendor cloud-first in 2020, is now attempting to expand ThoughtSpot's capabilities and customer footprint with its first acquisition and potentially more.

"Now is our opportunity to expand and be a true platform and ecosystem," Nair said. "The timing is absolutely right, and this was also the right opportunity. The culture fit; the vision fit. There are times to build organically, and there are times to get the products and best technology from the outside."

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