Data crunching AI startup ThoughtSpot raises $145 mln

SAN FRANCISCO, May 8 (Reuters) - Artificial intelligence company ThoughtSpot, whose technology enables sophisticated searches of corporate data, has raised $145 million in fresh funding, underscoring investor appetite for technology that promises to automate tasks once done by humans.

The company announced the new funding on Tuesday. Chief Executive Officer Ajeet Singh said in an interview that the round was more than double what he had set out to raise and would likely be the final private fundraising before an initial public offering in as little as two years.

The funding values the company at $950 million, up from $450 million after its last fundraising, according to venture capital data firm PitchBook Inc.

ThoughtSpot sells businesses software that uses artificial intelligence - teaching computer systems to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence - to make queries and deliver answers from a massive set of data. Company employees can search corporate data much the same as making a query using Google Search.

ThoughtSpot uses the search term to generate thousands of detailed questions about, for instance, inventory or customers, and produces dozens of analyzed data sets in seconds.

De Beers, for example, uses ThoughtSpot to help assess the value of its diamonds. Other customers include Chevron Corp , Bed Bath & Beyond Inc and Capital One.

The funding round is among the largest for a U.S. artificial intelligence (AI) startup this year, and brings ThoughtSpot’s total funding to $306 million, the company said.

AI is a highly competitive field, with large companies such as Alphabet Inc and startups in Silicon Valley and China racing to master technology to automate everything from self-driving cars to healthcare services and banking.

Venture capital firms including Sapphire Ventures, Lightspeed Ventures, Khosla Ventures and General Catalyst joined the funding round, as well as Australia’s sovereign wealth fund.

Jai Das, managing director of Sapphire Ventures, said it was his firm’s first investment in an AI company, because most other AI startups he had looked at were not making nearly as much money as ThoughtSpot.

“You look at the customers they are landing and the size of the deals they are landing and you can see there is really a need,” Das said.

Singh previously co-founded cloud computing company Nutanix, which held an IPO in 2016 that raised more than $200 million. (Reporting by Heather Somerville, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)