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Christian Chabot, Tableau co-founder and chairman, with new Tableau CEO Adam Selipsky. Photo via Michael Clinard/Tableau.
Christian Chabot, Tableau co-founder and chairman, with new Tableau CEO Adam Selipsky. Photo via Michael Clinard/Tableau.

Amazon seems to have made quite an impression on new Tableau Software CEO Adam Selipsky.

Taking questions from investors for the first time this week, the former Amazon Web Services vice president emphasized a customer-first approach and the importance of creativity and execution, all of which sounds a lot like the values that helped make Amazon a powerhouse in online retail, cloud computing and pretty much everything else.

“I do believe the opportunity ahead is tremendous. If we relentlessly focus on our customers, innovate rapidly and execute crisply, we will look back at this point as just the beginning,” Selipsky said on Tableau’s quarterly earnings call this week.

Contrast that with Amazon’s famed leadership principles and you might notice some similarities. Here is a brief description we find at the bottom of every Amazon press release: “Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking.”

Customer obsession, check; invention, check; operational excellence, check.

And lastly, long-term thinking. Creating his long-term vision for the company is obviously going to take Selipsky some time. But we got a glimpse of one way Tableau’s business will change in the future. The company is transitioning from perpetual licenses for its products to a subscription-based model. The move could put pressure on the bottom line in the short term, Selipsky said, but in the long term, subscriptions represent a more predictable, recurring revenue stream.

“Subscription licensing is a simpler model that’s more aligned with customer value, and it will benefit our customers,” Selipsky said on the earnings call. “It will make it easier for businesses to get started with Tableau by lowering the initial investment required. It will provide more flexibility to scale Tableau widely, and it will reduce risk for customers.”

Photo via Tableau.
Photo via Tableau.

Selipsky spent the past decade helping grow AWS into a cloud computing leader that is on track to generate $10 billion per year in sales. Now he is charged with taking Tableau to the next level, and helping the company recover from what has been a tough year on Wall Street. The company’s stock lost more than half its value late last year and has yet to recover. And fast-growing Tableau also scaled back hiring plans earlier this year.

Selipsky said he has spent his first six weeks on the job at Tableau getting to know every aspect of the company. He said he has met with teams in several offices, made customer trips, looked at products and dug into plans and strategies. At Amazon, leaders are encouraged to dive deep into every aspect of the job and learn as much as possible.

Selipsky also talked a lot about the cloud and opportunities Tableau has there. AWS has become such an important part of Amazon’s business over the years, and Selipsky wants the cloud to play a big role in Tableau’s future as well. Selipsky wants the company to beef up its Tableau Online platform, and make sure its programs work well with every cloud storage provider.

“It will come as no surprise to you that I believe strongly in the future of cloud computing,” Selipsky said. “Over time, more and more Tableau customers will want to run their analytics in the cloud. Tableau products are well-positioned to meet that demand as businesses move all their operations including analytics and data storage to the cloud.”

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