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Elissa Fink and Tom Walker at the Tableau headquarters.
Elissa Fink and Tom Walker at the Tableau headquarters.

Tableau Software is growing fast, adding 735 workers last year and achieving $412 million in annual revenue, an impressive 78 percent growth rate. With 26,000 customers in 150 countries, Tableau is exactly the type of high-growth company that attracts the attention of deep-pocketed tech titans.

Tableau recently expanded into the old Sound Mind & Body gym in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood.
Tableau recently expanded into the old Sound Mind & Body gym in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood.

But don’t look for Seattle-based Tableau — founded in 2003 at Stanford University — to sell out anytime soon. (Even though Mad Money Jim Cramer says the maker of data visualization software would be an attractive buyout target for IBM).

In an interview at Tableau’s headquarters along the Lake Washington Ship Canal in Seattle, Tableau CFO Tom Walker and CMO Elissa Fink downplayed the possibilities of an acquisition.

“We like to keep our destiny in our own hands,” said Walker, adding that people always like to speculate about high-growth companies like Tableau. “We have always been focused on complementing the data ecosystem. And it is really important that we are agnostic to data.”

Walker said that Tableau’s secret sauce is an ability to work with a variety of platforms, from IBM’s DB2 to Microsoft’s SQL Server to Oracle.

“We try to play this kind of Swiss Army knife approach to this, which is what I think customers are finding more valuable than necessarily being acquired by somebody who’d only care about their own databases,” said Walker. “If you are SAP, Hana is very, very important to you, and that is a database we connect to. To us, we just want to complement all of the different data ecosystems.”

Tableau CEO Christian Chabot at the company's annual conference.
Tableau CEO Christian Chabot at the company’s annual conference.

There are other key reasons why Tableau — which has developed an independent culture over the years forged through some tough times — may want to remain independent.  The company is just now accelerating its international growth, highlighted by the fact that CEO Christian Chabot has embarked on a 12-month relocation stint in London.

International business is heating up for Tableau, with the company experiencing more than 100 percent growth overseas in each of the past four years. At the end of 2014, Tableau employed 1,947 people, with much of the new growth taking place at offices in Frankfurt, Tokyo, Singapore, London and Dublin. It also plans to open a new office in France.

Japan and Switzerland (speaking of the Swiss Army knife approach) were the company’s two fastest growing markets, with sales growth topping 200 percent. It also plans to host six worldwide partner and customer conferences in 2015, showcasing the growing international scope of the business.

“We are just excited about where we are going and what it says about the opportunity out there for data analytics and people using data,” said Fink, adding that 2014 was the “year of the data geek.”

Tableau's stock is near a peak.
Tableau’s stock is near a peak, with a market value of $6.93 billion.

Tableau also has gotten a bit pricey in recent months, with the stock soaring near its all-time high. It went public on the New York Stock Exchange at $31 per share in May 2013.

The company — which claims to be the fastest growing business analytics software company of all time — now commands a market value of $6.93 billion.

Furthermore, Tableau is aggressively looking to go on the offensive, possibly using some of its stock and cash from a secondary offering last year to acquire complementary technologies.

Interestingly, Tableau has never made an acquisition in its 12 year history, growing organically instead. But that strategy appears to be evolving.

“We are absolutely looking to be acquisitive,” said Walker.

Tableau finished 2014 with $680 million in cash and cash equivalents on the book, up from $252 million at the end of 2013. And it is now looking to put some of that money to work.

“Our focus is more on our needs than other people’s needs,” said Walker.

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