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Reflections on Two Months with Thoughtspot

October 10, 2019

Author: Bianca Yang
Email: ipacifics@gmail.com

I joined Thoughtspot on August 5th, 2019. The original start date was July 1, but I pushed it back to spend more time with my family.

Here’s why I chose this company.

The company’s founder and chairman, Ajeet, likes to say we are only 2% done. Our mission is to create a more fact-driven world through simple, yet easy to use technology. This reminds me of the last sentence in Turing’s The Imitation Game:

We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.

You may be more reminded of Bezo’s “It’s always Day 1 at Amazon” quip.

The company really likes to emphasize its culture of selfless excellence. I have only seen confirmations that people at this company genuinely care about the success of the venture and each other’s personal successes.

Rakesh, my manager’s manager, is a big believer in the mission and has done a great job of articulating the vision and how we will achieve it. It is very motivating to have him as a manager.

The bureaucracy is still minimal. We are ~500 strong and I have access to most anyone’s calendar, from Ajeet to our SVP of Business Ops to our Controller. More adminstrative and non-tech teams like HR, recruiting, and sales / marketing are downstairs in our new Sunnyvale office and the engineers, IT, PMs, documentation, and finance teams are upstairs.

The company is at an inflection point in its growth cycle. We have been around for 7 years (the max age at which LinkedIn will let us call ourselves a startup) and have raised a Series E valuing us at ~$2 bil. We are officially late-stage. We have also hired Bob Baxley to be our new Senior VP of Design and Experience. We have established product-market fit, we’ve proven our value proposition through technical superiority (scale and speed at which our in-house database, Falcon, is able to operate, which is billions of rows at millisecond speed) and are now shifting towards a more customer-focused perspective. This does not mean that we stop thinking about the technical quality suffers. It just means that the framing of questions and our priorities and our structure shifts a bit. We added PMs like Dave Eyler just under 2 years ago, which shows how recently we moved into more product-growth, user-growth, deepen our roots position. The PMs are doing great work and I really respect how hard they dogfood our product and how they are driving engineering to greater success.

I’ve been working on bugs and small tasks up to now. I work on the search engine, which is responsible for surfacing suggestions as users type into our search bar. In case our website isn’t clear, we have built a search interface for relational data. The long term vision is to be the place where people go to interact with structured data, in much the same way that people go to Google to interact with unstructured text data and geographic data. My team has treated me well. We are now working on initiatives that will allow us to have greater insight into customer usage so we can give smarter suggestions. We are at an inflection point where the infrastructure and core functionality has become stable enough for us to start building compute pipelines on top of it. I expect more machine learning and data analysis demand to emerge over the next year.

We get free lunch each day. It’s a minor thing, basically expected in this era, but it makes it easy for teams to eat together and bond. Food is pretty healthy.

The company has invested a lot in revamping and polishing its technical bootcamp, which is for customers / partners and new employees. It covers most everything end users would want to know about the product, from data loading to system architecture to making worksheets to sharing pinboards to setting security levels. It felt grueling and boring in the moment, but I appreciate that the company invests that time, money, and effort in us. It’s a great way to ground new employees in the experience of the software.

My commute is about 6mi, 20min each way. It goes along Central Expressway, so I never experience any real traffic in the morning. If I leave between 5:30 - 7pm, I will suffer traffic at Central Expressway x Mary. The intersections in this part of town are highly inconvenient, often requiring you to take a level changing loop to get onto another road.

Do I think that I made the right choice in joining this company? I was more bushy-eyed when I first joined, but I think this was a good choice. This company has given me the best working experience of my life. I am looking forward to the next series of milestones and breakthroughs the company will achieve.

Our Beyond conference is next week. We have a lot of new features we are excited to launch, and I’m looking forward to seeing the attendees ooh and aah over our improvements.

Update 10/11/19: One of the pain points is that we only have two people on recruiting. They are definitely overburdened with all the work required to get our new grads, interns, and regular full-time hires into the system.

Update 10/15/19: HR is also understaffed, with four people total managing our global staff of 500 and still trying to catch up on writing formal policy.

Questions about Thoughtspot or me or this post? Email me @ ipacifics@gmail.com (personal) or bianca.yang@thoughtspot.com (work).