I am on vacation and woke up late and the first thing I saw on my phone is this news that Salesforce is buying Tableau . I – and many others – have predicted for a long time that Tableau would get acquired but several years passed by without that happening . And now that it has happened – I would like to share my initial thoughts . As always – these are strictly my personal opinions !
I think it’s a REALLY good move for both companies – so congrats to both sides . Well done !
Is the price fair ?
The most recent acquisition to consider as a rough compare is SAP buying Qualtrics for $8B . Considering Tableau makes a lot more $ every year than Qualtrics , the price SFDC is paying makes a lot of sense . The other one is Looker going to Google . I don’t think comparing what Google did is not the optimal way to look at this given Google already had a lot of functionality home grown and acquired , and just needed to close some small-ish gaps .
Tableau has always been considered over valued. Back in 2013, SAP publicly said so and many others said that privately over the years . I don’t know if SAP Lumira is still a thing – but I firmly believe it was best for SAP to buy Tableau at that time instead of trying to build a competitor product from scratch .
Who else could they have bought ? There are companies like Alteryx, Domo , GoodData etc that they could have bought and for cheaper too. But none of them are anywhere close to the kind of market leadership that tableau enjoys . It might even still be the case that alteryx might end up in Salesforce kitty for the right price .
But behind the scenes – a lot of big companies have had tableau as a target to buy for a long time . Benioff just proved to be the most decisive leader to pull the trigger – and bravo for that !
Is it good for tableau ?
I think tableau had kind of hit a plateau and needs fresh thinking on where to take the product next – perhaps also rethink licensing models for that matter . Microsoft Power BI is giving them a good run for their money in the market . I think this acquisition will be perfect for the team to get some fresh thinking – and maybe some fresh talent as well .
Is it good for Salesforce ?
Salesforce is the undisputed leader in CRM . And the key to customer facing tech is how great insights can be derived from the rich data and how those insights are surfaced to users to act on . Salesforce has been on that mission for a while – and with decent success – and having tableau in its fold will accelerate that mission . It should ideally reduce the custom work that their clients do today .
Cloud loves On-Prem !
It’s also worth noting that Salesforce – which is the poster child of cloud computing – is the most pragmatic enterprise software company . They bought MuleSoft not that long ago – which was a primarily on premise company . And now tableau too – also serving the on-Prem company . Tableau is leaps and bounds bigger/better than the cloud BI players . That pragmatism is one of the things that I love about this deal the most .
This time – with feeling
Salesforce has been dabbling with analytics and AI for a while but without great traction . Analytics – or more accurately visualization – is an ever green market . So it makes sense for Salesforce to get a significant market player into their portfolio . It doesn’t hurt that it helps with a significant revenue uplift too right off the bat . It also prevents tableau ending up with their big competitors .
Talent is already there
SFDC already has a lot of analytics talent – although a few good ones have left . For those that hung around and were reassigned to non data work – this is an excellent opportunity to get back to their roots and hit it out of the park . I may even venture a guess that some of the people who left SFDC might come back now given this acquisition
(Hi guys – will call you directly instead of calling out your names here. ) .
Integration is key
One of tableau’s strengths is its ability to connect to a variety of data sources – something that will come very handy once they are a part of Salesforce ecosystem . Next to simplicity for end users – ease of integration has always been the key to successful analytics !
New doors for Salesforce to knock on
On the go to market front – Salesforce has a great opening now to get close to the parts of enterprise they haven’t historically had direct access – like Finance and Controlling for example . That in itself should make the deal totally worthwhile in my opinion . I cannot think of a single large company I know of with significant Salesforce footprint that doesn’t also have Tableau deployed . I am tempted to wonder why they didn’t think of this sooner
Tableau is simple to use and solves a much needed visualization problem in an elegant way . It practically sold itself in a land and expand model in many companies I know of . They were brilliant in how they got to their current footprint in companies big and small . That trend will continue for some more time – and with a product refresh under new management it could pick up momentum – so even as a stand alone company, there is plenty of juice left for Salesforce to feel happy about .
Is it good for customers and partners ?
As with all large acquisitions, I expect customers to brace for impact on how the world looks like under new management for the products of the acquired company . I expect two different reactions from large and small companies ( of course as a generalization ).
I expect the larger companies to generally like this – because they can negotiate and rationalize and right size their licenses on both Salesforce and tableau , and hopefully reduce custom work on Salesforce over time . Of course we won’t know till joint roadmaps are fleshed out in detail .
For smaller companies – I expect a bit of grief in general as their first reaction . Smaller companies generally seem to like tableau more than they like Salesforce ( just from my limited view ). It’s not unusual – I have seen their general apprehension for all large vendors in the past too . I am sure Salesforce will gain their confidence quickly .
As for partners of all stripes – I expect a lot of cheering for this acquisition . Both companies have big partner ecosystems for their relative sizes and there is plenty of overlap . Generally that is a good thing when customers have lot more choice .
(Cross-posted @ Vijay's thoughts on all things big and small)