Christian Chabot

Tableau Software is one of Seattle’s rising tech stars, and we’ve speculated in the past that the fast-growing maker of visual analytics software could be a candidate to go public at some time in the near future. But just how is Tableau doing?

At an open house Thursday night at Tableau’s headquarters in Fremont, we got an inside look. CEO Christian Chabot not only spoke of the “data explosion” that’s driving businesses of all kinds to make sense of the data that they generate each day. But he also showed the proverbial “hockey stick” slide, noting how sales bookings nearly doubled last year. They are continuing on a meteoric pace. During the first half of 2012, the company posted bookings of $58.7 million.

“In the first six months of 2012, we’ve already sold 80 percent of what we sold all of last year, and we are up over 100 percent year-over-year,” said Chabot, adding that Gartner recently named Tableau the fastest-growing business intelligence company in the world. “What’s important is that we view ourselves as very, very early in this journey. We think there is an opportunity to build a really big and important company.”

A former venture capitalist, Chabot has always thought big. (In one of my first interviews with him back in 2006, Chabot boasted that Tableau would the “next billion-dollar company from Seattle.”) He certainly hasn’t given up on swinging for the fences, telling hundreds of people at the open house that he believes that Tableau could be “one of the most important product companies of the early 21st century.”

Christian Chabot (l) and Pat Hanrahan of Tableau Software
Christian Chabot (l) and Pat Hanrahan of Tableau Software

“Those early blue bars up to the right, that is just our beginning,” said Chabot, references the “hockey stick” chart showing sales bookings.

What’s next for Tableau? Like everyone else, the company is making a big push on mobile.

“We will spend a lot of investment dollars over the coming years investing in liberating data … on all devices, not just on laptops and PCs,” said Chabot.

Started as a research project at Stanford University, Tableau moved to Seattle shortly after it was founded in 2003. (That factoid drew applause from crowd at last night’s gathering). It now has more than 10,000 organizations using its visualization products, from healthcare to government to software to banking.

“Tableau’s mission and purpose couldn’t be simpler,” Chabot said. “We believe there is a really big opportunity to see and understand data, and that’s it. It is that simple. In fact, we think making it easy for people to see and understand data — like the kind of data that is in spreadsheets and databases and files — we believe that is a unsolved problem in modern computer science, much like Web search was before the advent of Google.”

Here’s more from the Chabot’s opening remarks.

[Editor’s note: Tableau is a GeekWire sponsor]

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  • Trotts M’Gotts

    Great open house yesterday! Now if I can only convince them to hire me.

  • Dmitry Gudkov

    Tableau is definitely one of the most interesting BI tools today which has arguably the smartest data visualization. What concerns me about Tableau is that in everything rest it’s pretty ordinary tool — actually nothing more that a yet another database viewer. Nothing about semantics and knowledge management, nothing about collaboration, nothing about metadata and impact analysis, etc. I can believe that state of the art data visualization can drive growth for some time (people like fancy stuff). However, I see nothing innovative that can drive growth beyond that.

    • Bob adams

      Actually Gartner ranked Tableau as #1 for Metadata management. While Tableau looks simple on the front, there is a high powered engine underneath that allows it to compete and win. You need to do your research.

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