Tableau Software: Visibly Catching On and Catching Up

Data visualization specialist Tableau Software spent some time with us this week talking about where they’ve come from and where they are going. After early project work for the DoD, founder Pat Hanrahan and his PHD student Chris Stolte joined forces with Jock MacKinlay, who spent some time at Xerox PARC. They spun out of Stanford in early 2003, and launched into a steady run of growth. With $5m in early funding, they’ve run conservatively – “cash flow even,” Marketing VP Elissa Fink calls it – ever since, and just celebrated 16 straight quarters of beating the prior quarter’s number.

Some of Tableau’s business is OEM: they provide Visual Explorer for Oracle Essbase for example. A good portion of the sales come from phone-based sales calls. The company has learned to empower “B2B consumers” who find them, with a free trial download model. Their conversion rate, they claim, is very good. A perpetual license for the desktop product is $999; the Professional version, for $1800, connects to Microsoft SQL Server, Netezza, Oracle, Teradata, etc. and publishes interactive analytics and dashboards. The Reader is free, allowing distribution of reports in a read only mode to anyone with a browser.

Tableau doesn’t publish revenue numbers, but IT Market Strategy believes they are approaching the $10M mark. A round of funding for that amount in late 2008 is targeted at finding growth as the firm builds out its portfolio of data connectors and partnerships, resellers and OEMs. A recent successful user conference (their first), a new deal with Vertica, and more to come demonstrate significant momentum in an increasingly “visible” space. Today, with a base of 3000 named accounts of all sizes – some with one copy and some with hundreds – and 30,000 users, geographic expansion looms as an opportunity. The product is internationalized but not localized, and building out distribution is a promising avenue for the next growth tier.

The best introduction to Tableau? Follow the link at the beginning of this post. Download a trial. Play with it a while. Get your checkbook out; you’ll use it soon.

Published by Merv Adrian

Independent information technology market analyst and consultant, 40 years of industry experience, covering software in and around the data management space.

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