Databricks Launches AI Graphics Competitor to Salesforce, Microsoft

The new business tool integrates generative AI for faster results.

Bloomberg News

June 12, 2024

2 Min Read
logo for Databricks on the screen of an open laptop

(Bloomberg) -- Databricks Inc., a data software provider listed among the 10 most-valuable closely held companies, is launching a visualization tool to compete with products from Salesforce Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

The feature, dubbed AI/BI, will integrate artificial intelligence and let users type questions about their data that will automatically build different charts and graphs to display the answers, the company said Wednesday in a statement.

Chief Executive Officer Ali Ghodsi said that other business intelligence platforms have “bolted-on” large language models — the technology that powers some generative AI — to their products in a way that frequently produces errors. Databricks’ new tool will continuously learn from individual customer data to better understand queries, he said in an interview.

This individualized AI training will be assisted by the team from MosaicML, a maker of large language models acquired by Databricks last year for $1.3 billion, Ghodsi added.

Salesforce’s Tableau and Microsoft’s Power BI, the leading data visualization tools, have introduced generative AI digital assistants generally at an additional cost in their apps. Databricks’ tool will be included free for customers, Ghodsi said. 

Many users are currently exporting information from Databricks into other software that creates graphics. Keeping it within Databricks will allow customers to have fresher data and simpler controls, the company said in the statement.

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Databricks, valued at $43 billion in a funding round last August, is the sixth most-valuable closely held company, according to industry analyst CB Insights. The late-stage startup is widely anticipated to be planning an initial public offering, though the company hasn't put a time line on when it will go public. Databricks said in March that revenue increased more than 50% to $1.6 billion in the fiscal year ending Jan. 31. 

Databricks has taken an increasingly sharp-elbowed approach to its main competitor, Snowflake Inc. It announced the acquisition of data management startup Tabular last week on the first day of its rival’s annual conference. When Snowflake’s then-chief executive Frank Slootman stepped aside earlier this year, Ghodsi said it was partly due to pressure from his company.

Even after the Tabular deal, Databricks is in conversations with other companies about acquisitions, Ghodsi said. “We are in a consolidation phase in this industry,” the CEO said, adding that as a private company, Databricks can pursue deals quicker and more strategically. 

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