Tableau Doubles Revenue by Making Data More Visual, More Fun
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navigate, play with, and picture, but to change the nature of the data industry itself and make something that has been traditionally reserved for “data geeks” accessible to everyone. He saw the opportunity to do for data what Adobe did for documents—to become the “Adobe of data.”
“One of the things that has made Adobe one of the biggest software companies in the world, is that everyone needs their product—everyone can consume Adobe products. All the world’s giant corporations, giant banks, giant governments, absolutely buy Adobe products—but guess what? So does that small business right there! Everyone does, because what they did is they had a mission that helped people create and share and understand documents. Well who doesn’t need to do that? Well likewise, Tableau helps people see and understand data. I mean, who doesn’t need to do that in terms of an organization?” Chabot says. “I thought the whole world needed this—any company, any non-profit, any university, and person could benefit from the technology.”
Unlike its biggest competitors, a cluster of companies called Business Intelligence Platforms, which Chabot says is woefully outdated, Tableau is thinking forward about how to make data visualization fun—for everyone, not just statistical analysts, researchers, and the otherwise numerically inclined.
“Business Intelligence Platforms—they have names like Cognos, Business Objects, Microstrategy. And they are these heavy, complicated corporate systems that are very expensive and slow. Now at their time they were actually really valuable,” Chabot says. The problem is that the companies were all founded in the early ’90s so their technology has become “decrepit, and slow, and expensive,” he says. Tableau, he says, is like the “shining new entrant” in the industry. “We identify more with companies like Apple, and Adobe, and Google. We just look at this whole industry and we say why isn’t this faster, more beautiful, more fun, and more affordable? Why not?”
Currently Tableau offers three products—Tableau Desktop, Tableau Server, and Tableau Public—that allow consumers, businesses, corporations, and your average data geeks (you can usually spot them by their “talk data to me” t-shirts, Chabot jokes) to easily upload data from either a spreadsheet or database, and instantly begin to explore the information visually.
Today the company boasts over 5,000 clients—from “the traditional Fortune 500 companies like Google, and Microsoft, and Cisco, and Intel, and Wells Fargo,” to a number of news organizations like The Wall Street Journal, CBS Sports, and The Seattle Times.
Tableau is now opening up offices all around the world to build on its momentum. At the end of August, Tableau will host its third annual customer conference, which will bring 600 to 700 Tableau users from all over the world to the downtown Seattle Sheraton. Next year the conference will be too large for any hotel in Seattle to accommodate, and according to Chabot, the company may even put on a second event for its clients in Europe. This fall, the company plans to release Tableau 6.0 across its existing product lines, which Chabot says “will be revved” with new features and functionalities.
As for funding, Chabot says that is not the company’s top priority right now. Though Tableau has a longstanding and strong relationship with New Enterprise Associates—the sole investor in its $5 million Series A and $10 million Series B—according to Chabot, the company hasn’t spent any of its financing money thus far.
“All of the VC money that we’ve ever raised is actually still in the bank. We haven’t used a dollar of it,” Chabot says. “We love our VC firm—they’ve provided a lot of value. But honestly Tableau is about growing our customer base and inventing more great things in our R&D department, and building a large worldwide software franchise. And over the years we may or may not need additional capital, but right now fundraising just isn’t a goal of any kind at Tableau.”