Trade of the Day: Tableau Software (DATA)

by Jon Markman | December 12, 2013 9:40 am

I’d like to introduce you to a small, young technology company that is showing a lot of promise: Tableau Software (DATA[1]). Its ticker symbol says it all; Tableau Software aims to help customers “see and understand data.” And that is a great business to be in these days considering the exponential growth of the generation of data. DATA has nearly doubled since its IPO in May, and I first started talking about Tableau Software stock shares in early November[2].


According to a research report from the International Data Corp. recently, by 2020, the world will generate 50-times the amount of data as in 2011. The IDC notes further that most organizations are expected to experience a doubling of the volume of data they create or process every two years. You would be hard-pressed to find another segment of growth that is even remotely close to that.

The primary goal of Tableau Software is to make analyzing this ever-increasing amount of data faster and easier than ever before. The company was founded in 2003 in my hometown of Seattle, Washington, but got its start as a result of a Department of Defense project at Stanford University. The DOD was looking for a way to increase the ability of the staff to analyze vast amounts of information. At the time, Co-founder Chris Stolte was a doctoral candidate researching visualization techniques for analyzing databases, and he, along with his advisor Pat Hanrahan, began working on a solution to this problem.

Their initial invention was VizQL, which let people analyze data just by building drag-and-drop pictures of what they wanted to see. They created a way to visually analyze large sets of data, and this core would become the center of all their future products. Stolte recruited a former business partner, Christian Chabot to become chief executive when they spun out of Stanford to start the firm. Prior to working at Tableau Software, Chabot served as an executive at Softbank Venture Capital and as President of BeeLine LLC, a visualization software company he also helped co-found.

The company’s three primary product groups consist of Tableau Desktop, Tableau Server and Tableau Online. The Desktop version allows users to drop data from virtually any source, including Microsoft Access, Excel, Google Analytics, Oracle, Salesforce, and a whole host of others into the Tableau interface for immediate analysis. The software eliminates the need to prepare or develop any coded formulas or additional programming, allowing for real time visualization results.

For larger organizations, Tableau Server allows companies to share all the features of the Desktop version across all necessary employees. It works in conjunction with existing data servers, allowing business users to get self-service dashboards and reports in order to free up existing server loads and speed up processes.

Tableau Online is a hosted version of Tableau Server, allowing the sharing of dashboards not only with clients’ entire organizations, but with any customers and partners they want to share data with as well. By utilizing the cloud strategy, customers can analyze data outside of their firewall, allowing for an endless amount of collaboration efforts.

Additionally, the firm launched another product recently labeled Tableau Public, which is a free “data storytelling” application. It allows any user to create and share interactive charts, graphs, and maps in minutes that can be published anywhere on the web. It allows for the purchase of additional functionality for individuals and small businesses with a larger online presence.

So, who’s working with Tableau Software? Both large and small companies from virtually every industry around the world, such as Dell (DELL[4]), Visa (V[5]), Hanesbrands (HBI[6]), Deloitte, Unilever (ADR[7]), and on and on. In fact, nearly 14,000 customer accounts in more than 100 countries currently utilize Tableau’s various product offerings.

There has been a proliferation of data analyzers that have sprung up recently, including Splunk (SPLK[8]), which I have traded before. Splunk shares are up 115% this year alone. The company focuses on indexing and managing machine data, while Tableau’s niche is its focus on easily turning that data into visualizations.

Traditionally, organizations have accessed data from reporting capabilities from third party enterprise applications and platforms maintained by internal IT departments. These systems were designed primarily in the early 1990s, and as the volume of data continues to grow, these systems have become increasingly complex and expensive to maintain. According to Gartner research, organizations are expected to spend $81 billion on business analytics and related services in 2014, with a majority of that earmarked to replace outdated technology.

Tableau Software has two primary growth segments it plans to focus on moving forward; existing customer penetration and international growth. The company currently uses a “land and expand” business model where they typically develop organizational relationships through a single users or departments, often with a free-trial basis of one of their software solutions. Once entrenched, the focus is identifying and pursuing new user opportunities. Second, only 17% of the firm’s revenues are generated outside of North America, leaving a significant opportunity for global expansion.

Tableau Software stock fell 1.2% Wednesday, not a big deal, as it consolidates around the middle of its channel. Get long at current levels and then hold for my initial target of $70.50.  When that level is hit, I think Tableau Software will move up to $75.

Jon Markman operates the investment firm Markman Capital Insights[9]. He also writes a daily trading newsletter, Trader’s Advantage[10], and CounterPoint Options[11], a service geared towards helping individual traders make steady, consistent profits with the VIX.  Follow Jon Markman[12] at Google+.


  1. DATA:
  2. shares in early November:
  3. [Image]:
  4. DELL:
  5. V:
  6. HBI:
  7. ADR:
  8. SPLK:
  9. Markman Capital Insights:
  10. Trader’s Advantage:
  11. CounterPoint Options:
  12. Jon Markman:

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