Careers at Tableau Software
Tableau Software’s mission is to help people see and understand their data.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) was involved with a project whose purpose was to increase humans’ ability to analyze information. The agency brought the initiative to the Stanford University Computer Science department to be overseen by Professor Pat Hanrahan. Harnahan had achieved some fame as a founding member of Pixar, the popular animation film studio. He was excited about the project, and his enthusiasm was shared by the Ph.D. student he was advising, Chris Stolte.
At the time Stolte was studying visualization strategies for the exploration and analysis of data cubes and relational databases. His prior career as a database programmer had enabled him to identify challenges posed by current data analysis tools. He saw the DoD effort as something that had strong potential to fix these problems. He worked with Harnahan to develop a solution. The result was VizQL, a software program that allowed users to analyze data by creating pictures representing it.
During this years-long period the two met Christian Chabot, an Entrepreneurship student at Stanford Business School who was also a former data analyst. He was excited when they showed him their creation, viewing it as “the future“. He helped encourage them to commercialize the solution, and in 2003 they founded Tableau Software and spun it out of Stanford. Its core product queries spreadsheets, cubes, and databases, and generates graphs that can be combined into dashboards.
The team obtained early funding for the venture, raising $5 million in 2004 in a Series A round. In a short matter of time, the offering took off, achieving several milestones. These included its first customer (Tom Walker of Time Warner, now Tableau‘s CFO), an original equipment manufacturing deal with Hyperion (now called Oracle), an investment from New Enterprise Associates, and an award for “Product of the Year“ from PC Magazine. In 2013 Tableau filed a successful IPO.
Logo © by Tableau Software (Wikimedia Commons) under CC BY-SA 3.0.
Business model of Tableau Software
Tableau has a mass market business model, with no significant differentiation between customer segments. The company targets its offering at any organization that wants data visualized, and its clients range from sole proprietors to global corporations. Its customers operate in a wide range of industries, including retail, media/entertainment, business services, financial services, manufacturing, energy and telecommunications, life sciences and healthcare, and education.
Tableau offers two primary value propositions: performance and brand/status.
The company has demonstrated strong performance, as indicated by customer testimonials. The company HotelQuickly, with a mobile app of the same name, used Tableau’s software to reduce analytics timelines, identify new ways of viewing data, and carry out faster business responses. The company Marchex used the software to increase productivity and improve data communication.
The company has established a powerful brand as a result of its performance. As of December 2015 it had over 39,000 customer accounts of all industries and sizes in more than 150 countries. High-profile clients include Cisco, Capital One, Wells Fargo, and Deloitte. Between 2013 and 2015, its revenues grew by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 67.7%. Lastly, Tableau has won many honors, including recognition as "Best of 2005 for Data Analysis" (PC Magazine), "Best Overall in Data Visualization" (DM Review), “Best Business Intelligence Solution“ (Software & Information Industry Association), and a leader position in the 2015 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms.
Tableau’s main channel is its direct sales force, which it uses to acquire most of its customers. The group includes the inside sales team, which is based in regional sales hubs and manages smaller accounts, and field sales teams, which are spread throughout various continents and are primarily responsible for targeting large enterprises. The company also sells its products through indirect channels such as resellers, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), technology vendors, and independent software vendors (ISVs). Indirect channels account for less than 10% of its focus.
The company promotes its offering through its website, social media pages, e-mail and search engine marketing, hosting of webinars and seminars, publishing of analyst reports, white papers, and case studies, and attendance of trade shows and conferences. Tableau also hosts its own annual Tableau Customer Conference which educates and encourages networking among its users.
Tableau’s customer relationship is primarily of a personal assistance nature. The company offers the following programs:
Training – Specific offerings include live online training, classroom training, training videos, and product demos.
Support Services – The company provides general phone, e-mail, and social media support. It also provides the following services for customers with Support Service contracts:
- Technical Support Program – Provides access to Knowledge Base (a collection of resources), live web training, on demand training, Customer Community, and Customer Center (enables case creation and retrieval of product downloads).
- Elite Technical Account Management – Includes all features of the Technical Support Program, as well as direct access to a dedicated Technical Account Manager and 24/7/365 support.
- OEM Technical Support Program – Includes all features of the Technical Support Program, as well as direct access to a dedicated Partner Support Engineer who will assist customer with integration and 24/7/365 support. Only available to clients who integrate Tableau into their software suites.
Consulting Services – Include the following:
- Enterprise Services – Consultants provide workshops and guidance on enterprise deployments
- Quick Start Services – Consultants provide guidance on rapid deployments for clients of all sizes
- Experts on Demand - Consultants provide server reviews, health checks, load testing and capacity planning
Beyond personal assistance, there is also a community component in the form of a forum where customers can interact with fellow Tableau users.
Tableau’s business model entails designing and developing its software products for customers.
Tableau maintains the following key partnerships:
Resellers – Providers of business intelligence technology services that also resell Tableau. Specific partners include Alliance Enterprises, Claraview, Interworks, Teradata Corporation, and USEReady.
Technology Partners – Organizations that create software solutions that enhance the Tableau experience. Specific partners include Alteryx, Bi Connector, Cdata Software, and Datawatch.
Alliance Partners – Consultants with a business intelligence background that assist Tableau customers with finding the best solution. Specific partners include Accenture and BlueGranite.
OEM Partners – Organizations that integrate Tableau software into their applications. Specific partners include Abbott Informatics Corporation, Bally Technologies, ChannelIQ and DataSelf.
Tableau’s main resource is its research and development team, which engages in the development, testing, and certification of the company’s software. The company also depends heavily on its training and consulting staff to provide a wide range of services. Lastly, it places a high priority on its intellectual property, with 16 issued and 35 pending patents in the United States.
Tableau has a value-driven structure, aiming to provide a premium proposition through significant personal service. Its biggest cost driver is sales/marketing, a fixed expense. Other major drivers are in the areas of research and development and administration, also fixed costs.
Tableau has two revenue streams:
License Fees – Revenues generated from the sale of licenses to new customers and additional licenses to existing accounts. Include term, subscription, and perpetual fees. Perpetual license fees accounted for over 90% of the total in 2015.
Maintenance and Service Fees – Revenues generated from fees paid for maintenance services (upgrades, enhancements, and general support) and to a lesser extent, professional and training services.
info: Christian earned a B.S. from Stanford’s School of Engineering and an MBA from Stanford Business School. He previously served as an Associate Partner at Mobius Venture Capital and Co-Founder and CEO of BeeLine Systems.
info: Chris earned a B.S. in Computer Science from Simon Fraser University and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University. He previously served as the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of BeeLine Systems.
info: Pat earned a B.S. and a Ph.D. in Biophysics at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. He previously served as the Co-Founder of PeakStream and a Founding Employee of Pixar. He is also a professor of Computer Science at Stanford University.
info: Elisa earned an MBA in Marketing and Decision Systems at the University of Southern California. She previously served as EVP of Marketing at IXI Corporation and held executive roles at Tele Atlas, TopTier Software, and Nielsen/Claritas.
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