For the first time since it launched nearly 14 years ago, Tableau Software has a new leader.
The Seattle-based data analytics and visualization company just announced that Amazon Web Services veteran Adam Selipsky will become Tableau’s new CEO, effective Sept. 16.
Christian Chabot, who co-founded Tableau in 2003 and ran the company as CEO since then, will remain as chairman.
In an interview on Monday with GeekWire, Chabot called Selipsky a “sensational new leader,” pointing to his experience at Amazon, where he helped grow the company’s cloud computing arm from the ground floor into a business that is now on track to generate $10 billion per year in sales.
GeekWire previously reported last week that Selipsky had left Amazon — now we know where the longtime Amazon executive and former RealNetworks vice president is headed.
“Clearly, that has been a sensational success,” Chabot said of AWS, calling it one of the ‘most successful tech platforms’ in the world. “Adam will be helping lead Tableau through a similar journey, hopefully.”
In a statement, Selipsky said that he is “incredibly excited” to join Tableau. An SEC filing shows that he will earn an annual base salary of $500,000 and will be eligible for an annual incentive bonus of up to 100 percent of that base salary. He will also receive a cash signing bonus of $1 million.
“Tableau has that rare combination of a passionate customer base, leading products, amazingly talented people, dedication to technology innovation, and momentum in the market,” said the 49-year-old. “The company is positioned to become the new world standard in analytics. I’m honored to join the leadership team and all the great people that have fueled Tableau’s disruption of business analytics. As we add capabilities for our customers, deepen our enterprise presence, and expand into the cloud, our mission remains unchanged — to help people see and understand their data.”
The executive shuffle comes during a rocky year for Tableau on Wall Street. During the fourth quarter of 2015, the company posted a record $203 million in revenue, but took a $41 million loss. As a result, its stock lost about half its value and has yet to fully recover. The company’s stock fell again the following quarter and has dropped nearly 50 percent in the past year, now trading at $54.87.
Tableau, which is facing increased competition in the data analytics industry, also scaled back hiring plans by 50 percent earlier this year.
Asked about the timing of the leadership changes, Chabot said the 3,200-person company (60 percent of employees are based in the Seattle area) is “well positioned for its next stage — becoming one of the most important technology companies on the planet.”
“We have not expanded our leadership team since before our IPO in 2013, and since then, the company and opportunity have grown tremendously,” he said. “These moves expand our executive ranks and positions us well for our next stage of growth.”
Shares of Tableau are up more than 5 percent in after-hours trading.
The hiring of Selipsky also points to Tableau’s new focus on its cloud product, Tableau Online.
“Our expansion in cloud is particularly germane to the next five years — it’s more important to the next five years than the last five years,” Chabot said. “In fact, one of the reasons we recruited Adam is his exceptional expertise in the cloud. I wouldn’t be surprised if he decides to really supersize that part of the strategy.”
Tableau co-founder and chief development officer Chris Stolte will also step down from his leadership position and transition to “technical advisor.” Andrew Beers, Tableau’s seventh employee who was most recently vice president of product development, will replace Stolte as the company’s new chief development officer.
Chabot said that he and Stolte, who started Tableau in Silicon Valley in 2003 before moving the company to Seattle a few years later, will spend more time focused on long-term strategy and customer evangelism — “areas where we can have the biggest impact,” he noted.
“Chris and I will be assisting Adam and the executive team in the areas where we are best at,” Chabot added.
Despite the decreasing stock price, Chabot said that Tableau is “one of the fastest-growing technology companies out there,” noting that it closed more new accounts during Q2 than any quarter in its history. He added that Tableau, which has more than 46,000 customer accounts, “has a very small share” of the visual data and analytics market, pinning it at about 5 percent.
“Tableau’s size and scale continues to increase,” Chabot said. “As we look forward into next year and the 5-year plan, it seems like an opportune time to have the best of both worlds: bring in additional executive leadership for a much bigger company, while also focusing me and Chris on the things we most enjoy and do best.”
This past May, Chabot hinted that he wanted to bring on a president or COO, but it wasn’t clear then that he would ultimately step down as CEO. Tableau sales chief Kelly Wright, who helped build the company into a data visualization powerhouse, will retire at the end of this year. There is no longer a search for a president, but the company is still searching for a new sales chief, Chabot said today.
Chabot on Monday also explained how successful software companies come in three acts: going from $0 to $100 million in annual revenue, going from $100 million to $1 billion, and then beyond.
He said Tableau, which just launched Tableau 10 and has 16 offices worldwide, is nearing the end of Act 2, closing in on $1 billion in annual sales — its guidance for 2016 revenue is more than $800 million.
“The question for our board, which has been thinking about this for some time, was what our ‘Act 3’ plan was, and if we were going for it or not,” Chabot explained. “We are going for it.”