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Salesforce shells out $15.7bn for data viz biz Tableau

Because nobody really likes spreadsheets

Salesforce is buying data visualisation specialist Tableau for $15.7bn as it looks to up its analytics game.

As a CRM platform heavyweight, Salesforce collects caboodles of data – and the deal could make information presented by products like Customer 360 prettier to look at and maybe, just maybe, easier to understand.

This is not a cash transaction: Salesforce will simply exchange all of the Tableau Class A and Class B common stock for 1.103 shares of its common stock, representing an enterprise value of $15.7bn.

The buy has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies. Keith Block, co-CEO of Salesforce, issued canned remark that ticked boxes in the game of bingo buzzword:

"Data is the foundation of every digital transformation, and the addition of Tableau will accelerate our ability to deliver customer success by enabling a truly unified and powerful view across all of a customer's data."

Tableau was founded in 2003 as an analytics platform with advanced visualisation capabilities. The firm went public in 2013, on a valuation of $3bn. It focuses on building user-friendly software: the products are designed for any skill level and not just professional data scientists. It counts 86,000 organisations among its customers including Verizon, Schneider Electric and Netflix.

Today, software from Tableau is available as a desktop distribution, on-premises version or hosted in a public cloud. Earlier this year, the company introduced machine learning that lets users to interrogate datasets using questions posed in natural language.

This functionality, called Ask Data, was built with the tech Tableau acquired with the purchase of upstart ClearGraph in 2017.

Following the acquisition by Salesforce, Tableau will operate independently under its own brand. It will keep its HQ in Seattle (Salesforce HQ is in San Francisco) and will continue to be led by CEO Adam Selipsky and the current leadership team.

Salesforce became one of the first to apply machine learning to CRM with Salesforce Einstein.

The sale Tableau is expected to be completed during Salesforce's fiscal third quarter ending October 31, 2019, subject to customary closing conditions. The transaction is expected to increase Salesforce's FY20 total revenue by approximately $350m to $400m.

Random fact: Salesforce's Benioff is a distant cousin of David Benioff, the co-creator, showrunner and writer of HBO's Game of Thrones. ®

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