Tableau Software Sales Up 71 Percent With Lots of Room to Grow

In its first quarterly financial report as a public company, Tableau Software posted sales of $49.9 million, up 71 percent from a year ago, and a net loss of $2.6 million, sending its shares to a new high in after-hours trading.

The Seattle data visualization software maker raised a net $177 million in a public offering in mid-May that also has helped juice its sales. It priced its shares at $31 and watched investors bid the company up to $62.86 at market close on July 5, a level surpassed in after-hours trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange, where Tableau trades under the fitting ticker symbol DATA. The company finished the extra session at $69.34 a share, giving it a market value approaching $4 billion.

Tableau is investing its cash in growing the company—mainly through hiring in sales and marketing and research and development—to seize what co-founder and CEO Christian Chabot calls “one of the most important opportunities in computing this century.”

“Our breakthrough technology, enables people of all skill levels to see and understand and harness the potential of data,” Chabot said, reading from prepared remarks.

The net loss in the second quarter compares to a $1.1 million profit for the same period in 2012. The company more than doubled its operating expenses in the quarter to $47.8 million, and that was actually less than it had planned as facilities expansion projects and hiring were slower than expected. It still hired 96 people, bringing total employment to 930, an increase of 86 percent from the same time last year.

The sales and marketing investment appears to be paying off. The 1,500 new customer accounts Tableau racked up in the second quarter was the most in its history. (It added 1,100 new accounts in the first quarter.) It now counts more than 13,500 customers, and Chabot suggests this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The company’s IPO, as well as the rollout of a new version of its software late in the first quarter, helped drive sales, Chabot says.

“We’re really thankful for the awareness that basically the whole IPO effort gave the company, but that wasn’t one moment or spike,” he says. “…Over about a six-month period, between the buzz as an up-and-comer, making all the private company lists, and then filing, and so on, going through the whole process, we definitely reached a record awareness.”

He adds that it’s hard to tell whether that awareness will remain into the future.

Chabot also addressed Tableau Online, a software-as-a-service version of its main product introduced last month. He says the move does not foreshadow a business model shift away from software licensed for use on premises. “For the foreseeable future, and by that I mean the foreseeable decades, there is a legitimate and valuable need to sometimes adopt analytics technology on [premises], behind the firewall,” he says, adding that some Tableau customers are already doing both on premises and cloud deployments of the software.

Chabot concluded his prepared remarks with something you don’t often hear from public-company CEOs on their earnings calls: He praised Tableau’s employees, addressing them directly and saying “how incredibly proud I am” of their contributions.

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