This is the Part 2 of my post about Tableau’s history. Part1 “Tableau self-intro: 2003-7” was published on this blog earlier. The text below is based on Tableau’s attempt to re-write own history, version by version. What is below is said by Tableau, but interpreted by me. Part 1 “Intro” covers 2003-7 from version 1 to 3, Part 2 (this article) “Catching-up” covers 2008-10 from versions 4 to 6. Recent Q3 of 2015  ($171M revenue) financial results showing that Tableau keeps growing faster than anybody in industry, so interest to its history remaining high among visitors of my blog.

In 2010, Tableau reported revenue of $34M, $62M in 2011 (82% YoY), $128M in 2012 (106% YoY). The company’s 2013 revenue reached $232M, an 81% growth over 2012’s $128M.  2014 revenue exceeded $413M (78% YoY) and in 2015 Tableau expected $650M revenue (57% YoY), more than QLIK:


In Multi-line Chart above (data are from Morningstar, for example: the width of the each line reflects the value of Year-over-Year growth for given company for given year (Tableau is blue, Qliktech is green and Microstrategy is orange; unfortunately Spotfire sales data are not available since 2008, thanks to TIBCO). Here is Tableau’s revenue for last 5 quarters:


Tableau’s success has many factors but in my opinion the 5 main contributors are:

  • In 2007 TIBCO bought Spotfire, making it incapable to lead;
  • Both Spotfire and Qliktech left their R&D in Sweden while scattered other offices in US;
  • Release of free Tableau reader in 2008 – brilliant marketing move;
  • Release of free Tableau Public in 2010 – another brilliant marketing move;
  • Gift from Qliktech in 2011-2015 (more about that in Part 3 or 4 of this blog post).

4.0. 2008. Integrated Maps added: “Data elements such as city, state and country are now automatically recognized as mappable dimensions, and users can also assign geospatial rules to selected dimensions. Once maps are created, users can also change the way data is presented and drill down into the underlying information without a need to understand map layers or complex geographic parameters”.

“Other upgrades in Tableau 4.0 include support for embedding visualizations within Web applications, Web sites and portals such as Microsoft SharePoint. Conversely, Web applications can also be embedded into Tableau”.

In 2008 Tableau released the free Tableau Reader and enables server-less distribution of visualization with full Windows UI experience. “Getting an unlimited free trial into the hands of thousands of people raises awareness among people who are interested in analyzing data, while at the same time training them in its use”. Also see old video here:

5.0. 2009. Tableau enables Views and Dashboards to act Visual Filters, which improves tool’s ability to drill-down data. Such actions can be local and global. Tableau Server now is capable of multi-threading and it can be distributed among multiple hardware boxes or virtual machines, greatly improve scalability and performance.

New Data sources and connectors introduced: Postgres 8.3, Oracle 11g, MySQL 5.1, Vertica v3, Teradata 13, DB2 v9.5 ; Tab, Space, Colon and Pipe delimited flat files, custom geocodes.

5.1. 2010. Added reference lines, bands and distributions, added bullet charts and box-and-whisker charts, expanded set of available pallets, enabled the customization of titles, annotations, tooltips, dashboard sizes,


actions and filters. Tableau 5.1 extended the support for Teradata and Essbase.

Tableau Public. 2010. In its 2nd brilliant marketing move (1st was the release of free Tableau Reader in 2008) the free Tableau Public was released and that instantly made Tableau as the leader in Data Visualization field.

6.0. 2010. The evil Data Blending was introduced in version 6 due an inability of Tableau to join tables from multiple databases and datasources. This architectural bug will be partially fixed in 2016 (Tableau 9.2 or later – it was not clear from TC15 announcement), but real solution can be achieved only when Tableau will implement own internal in-memory DBMS (preferably capable to support columnstore).

Data Engine was introduced as the separate process, which in theory is capable to optimize the creation of Data Extracts and the usage of available RAM as well as take advantage of available disk space so Data Extract can be larger than available RAM. Among new features are improved server management; parameters, which can accept user’s input; suite of table calculations; and drag-and-drop UI for creating Ad-hoc hierarchies.

Below is a screenshot of my drill-down dashboard I did originally in Qlikview and then redid in Tableau 6 to prove that Tableau can do as much drill-down as Qlikview can (using Tableau’s Dashboard Actions):


Image above has an interesting “story”: since it was published on this blog more than 4 years ago it was copy-pasted (in many cases “stolen” without credit to me!) and used as the showcase for Tableau by many blogposts, articles and other publications and “authors”, who disrespect the elementary quoting/crediting rules since internet allows copy/paste operations and leaving up to those people to be polite or disrespectful.

The indirect prove of the brilliancy of Tableau’s marketing moves (free Tableau Reader and free Tableau Public) in 2008-2010 is the volume of the internet searches (thanks to for Tableau and its 6 nearest competitors in 2009-14:


In follow-up I am planning the Part 3: Tableau competes, 2011-13 and Part 4: Tableau the leader, 2013-15.