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Episode Info: When Mohit Daswani stepped into the CFO office of Sunnyvale, Calif.-based ThoughtSpot this past January, he ascended to something more than just another finance leadership position inside a SaaS start-up. Daswani was joining an influential class of CFOs distinguished by their ability to communicate a vision that connects not just with investors, but also with other CFOs. This is a cohort widely visible within the realm of business Intelligence, or BI, the space where finance leaders frequently shop for new technologies and tools to analyze their business data while surveilling the messaging of BI’s latest class of CFO thought leaders. From the perspective of ThoughtSpot, which raised $248 million in late-stage funding last August, the world of BI is now colliding with the world of artificial intelligence and moving the competitive state of play from visualization to real-time data delivery. “This is just a very different offering and value proposition from the current state of BI,” explains Daswani, who was previously the head of finance and strategy at payments company Square, Inc. “This is about giving business customers not just a static dashboard, but also the ability to query the data in real time and create a natural language search on the front end,” adds Daswani, who quickly lists Walmart, 7-Eleven, Celebrity Cruises, and Hulu as ThoughtSpot customers. For some BI watchers, Daswani’s arrival is a feat of fortunate timing, perhaps matched only by that of those executives who once occupied the CFO office at such companies as Cognos and BusinessObjects, the pioneering BI technology companies that many credit with having helped to launch the first big wave of wide-scale BI tool adoption. Then came Tableau, with its powerful visualization tools that indoctrinated even more CFOs into the ranks of the BI faithful. Acquired by Salesforce last June for $14.6 billion, Tableau was a property whose sale became a milestone that few BI watchers could ignore. Add to this, Google’s purchase last year of Looker, another visually driven developer, and it’s clear that visualization is now in BI’s arsenal, says Daswani. “If I’m a CFO or marketing lead, I no longer have to enlist a data scientist to go build a query or dashboard for me,” notes Daswani. “We're talking directly to that decision-maker and company and saying, ‘How do we make your life easier? If you're a CFO, you need to understand what's going on with working capital, because you're managing your cash flow. Let us make it easier for you to do that directly,’” reports Daswani, who these days is busy standardizing work flows and procedures in preparation for ThoughtSpot’s much anticipated IPO. “The Valley is building a lot of great companies right now. I’ve met with many of them over the past few years, but ThoughtSpot stood out for me in multiple dimensions,” says Daswani. Still, ThoughtSpot has company. Among those companies now amplifying the messaging b...
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