Fast-growing Tableau Software files for $150M IPO

tableauTableau Software, the Seattle maker of data visualization products, has filed to raise up to $150 million in an initial public offering.

Founded ten years ago as a research project at Stanford University and led by CEO Christian Chabot, the company reported revenue of $127 million last year. That was more than double the total for 2011. The company has been profitable for the past three years, but net income fell last year to $1.5 million.

The company didn’t have a comment beyond their S-1 filing, which was released today. The scene at its headquarters in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood was business as usual.

Tableau, which employed 749 people at the end of last year, plans to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “DATA.”

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Christian Chabot speaking at the GeekWire Meetup in February

It would mark the first tech company in the Seattle area to go public since Zillow completed an initial public offering in July 2011.

The company has been discussed as an IPO candidate for several months now, and when asked about the possibility of a public offering at the GeekWire Meetup in February, Chabot declined to take the bait.

That was one of the last public appearances by Chabot prior to the IPO filing, a frank and open discussion about the company’s progress and pitfalls over the years, as well as plenty of entrepreneurial wisdom. (Video highlights posted below).

Chabot previously told me in an interview eight years ago that he had always imagined the company going public, and had even pre-written the first line of the company’s prospectus to say: “Tableau is the world’s leading provider of visual analysis products.”

How does that match up to today’s filing? Well, not too far off. Here are the first couple of sentences:

Our mission is to help people see and understand data. Our software products put the power of data into the hands of everyday people, allowing a broad population of business users to engage with their data, ask questions, solve problems and create value.

He also bluntly told me in that interview eight years ago that his young software startup would be “the next billion-dollar company from Seattle.”

We will have to wait and see where Wall Street values Tableau, but a valuation north of $1 billion certainly seems within the realm of possibility. After all, the company is already bigger than Zillow in terms of revenue. (Zillow, which is currently valued at $1.8 billion, had revenues of $116.9 million last year).

Tableau raised capital from Meritech Capital and New Enterprise Associates, but the company never really used the funds for growth. “Every single dollar of that is unspent in our bank account,” Chabot said at the GeekWire Meetup.

Nonetheless, those venture backers still own a large chunk of the company. NEA holds a 37 percent stake, while Meritech holds six percent. Chabot and co-founder Christopher Stolte each have 15 percent stakes, while co-founder Patrick Hanrahan owns 18 percent.

Follow-upPerseverance and patience: How Tableau made the IPO leap after 10 years

Meanwhile, here are highlights from Chabot’s talk at the February Meetup:


Here’s the full interview:

Previously on GeekWireScenes from the GeekWire Meetup, in pictures and tweets … Tableau CEO Christian Chabot: Why entrepreneurs should avoid venture capitalTableau CEO Christian Chabot: The power of perseverance over pivoting

[Editor's note: Tableau Software is a GeekWire annual sponsor].

  • Bill Bryant

    What a great day for Seattle tech, entrepreneurs and investors alike ! A year or so from now, when we look back on what happened on the tech scene, we’ll recognize that Tableau was just the first of many great well -positioned tech startups to find liquidity for its founders, employees and investors. IPO filings or acquisitions will bring visibility to stories like Apptio, Zuliily, Parallels, Redfin, Inrix Tableau and others.

    What will happen next is predictable – investors from across the country will arrive enmasse in search of the next wave of well positioned startups.

    Get your companies ready !

    And congratulations to Tableau for leading the way.