Tableau has just released its results for Q1 2015 showing total revenue up 75% year over year. This continues a four year trend for the company as it continues to benefit from the demand for visualisation software as companies struggle to make sense of big data.
According to the announcement the key figures are:
- Total revenue $130.1 million – up 75%
- License revenue $84.4 million – up 74%
- International revenue $31.7 million – up 89%
- 2,600 new customer wins
- 249 transactions greater than $100,000
Sustainable growth or too fast too soon?
In its 2014 full year financial report, Tableau highlighted its continued rapid growth as a potential risk to the business. It stated “Due to our rapid growth, we have a limited operating history at our current scale, which makes it difficult to evaluate our future prospects and may increase the risk that we will not be successful.”
It listed 11 key success factors it will need to address in order to continue its growth. Among them were the need to expand its customer base both domestically and internationally and its ability to renew maintenance agreements with and upsell existing customers. Looking at the numbers from Q1 2015 it appears that the company has managed to address both of these, at least in the short term.
Tableau also admitted that it was struggling to get consistency in its sales patterns. Despite what can only be described as exceptional results over the last four years, it has suffered losses in at least one quarter per year. To highlight how serious the problem is, 2014 was the best year on record for Tableau yet it recorded losses in the first three quarters of the year.
That has continued into 2015. While the headline figures look exciting they mask the fact that the GAAP operating loss for the quarter was $13.8 million. In the same quarter a year ago the loss was just $1.9 million.
Tableau pushing ahead with new releases
In April 2015, Tableau released Tableau 9.0 which is a new version of its software. Although the company has not released the details of the costs associated with the launch, these would all have been in Q1 2015 and it is likely that Q2 will show the company back in profit as it reaps the benefit of the launch.
This was not the only product announcement that would have hit Q1 numbers. Tableau has been busy building Tableau Public, a free platform for its community. This will also have hit its costs in the quarter as the community surged to over 100,000 users.
Visualisation high on the agenda for many companies
The big problem that many companies have with their big data and analytics strategy is how to present the data. While there is a place for data scientists and data engineers, the majority of organisations are looking for analytics to be part of their office productivity solutions.
This is where Tableau has been able to gain a foothold in the market. It has visualisation tools for multiple operating systems and clients that sit on servers, desktops and can be accessed by mobile devices through a web-based solution. It has also been quick to deliver its own integration with data analytics and business intelligence solutions from a variety of vendors.
Cloud a key part of any future success
Although Tableau has launched its own Tableau Cloud, Software as a Service (SaaS) solution, it hasn’t chosen to identify how well it is doing in these accounts. This raises a question over its ability to effectively move to the cloud.
Last year saw a number of born-on-the-cloud analytics vendors with their own visualisation tools enter the market. Tableau will need to prove that it is capable of not only competing with them but that its software is as flexible as these new entrants. It will also need to convince customers that it can build out the required infrastructure to support a cloud and SaaS future.
This is another good quarter for Tableau and with other announcements, such as Tableau Public now available as a premium model capable of supporting up to 10 million rows of data it would be a surprise if Q2 2015 does not see a return to profit.