Salesforce’s $15.7bn Tableau buy is a bet on the visual future of data

11 Jun 2019

Image: © zhu difeng/

Things are about to get very visual in the realm of business software.

Business software giant Salesforce has acquired Seattle data visualisation player Tableau for $15.7bn (€13.9bn) in a move to bolster its analytics offering.

The move is particularly clever because it is a bet by Salesforce on how analytics and business intelligence (BI) will be made all the more potent through powerful data visualisations.

‘We are bringing together the world’s number one CRM with the number one analytics platform’

The move will also add impetus to Salesforce’s rivalry with Microsoft, which competes with Tableau through its Power BI data visualisation technology.

The takeover of Tableau is Salesforce’s largest acquisition to date and will play a key role in the company’s ambition to reach an annual revenue goal of up to $28bn by 2023.

Picture this: The very visual future of business software

“We are bringing together the world’s number one CRM with the number one analytics platform,” said Salesforce founder and co-CEO Marc Benioff.

“Tableau helps people see and understand data, and Salesforce helps people engage and understand customers. It’s truly the best of both worlds for our customers, bringing together two critical platforms that every customer needs to understand their world.”

Tableau was started in 2003 by Christian Chabot along with his Stanford friends Chris Stolte and Pat Hanrahan. The company opened its first office in Dublin in 2013. Hanrahan, a Stanford professor who was a founding employee at Pixar and who has won three Academy Awards for his work in computer graphics for movies, set out with Chabot, an executive with a passion for data, and data scientist Stolte to put data visualisation in the hands of everyone.

“Joining forces with Salesforce will enhance our ability to help people everywhere see and understand data,” said Adam Selipsky, president and CEO of Tableau.

“As part of the world’s number one CRM company, Tableau’s intuitive and powerful analytics will enable millions more people to discover actionable insights across their entire organisations. I’m delighted that our companies share very similar cultures and a relentless focus on customer success. I look forward to working together in support of our customers and communities.”

Updated, 10.12am, 11 June 2019: This article was amended to clarify that Salesforce acquired Tableau for $15.7bn, according to the former’s website.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years