It was a case of good timing for two companies cashing in on big trends in the technology industry. Investors associate data-visualization player Tableau with big data, but company co-founder Christian Chabot says the company addresses data of any size.
"People all over the world and in every profession and company size feel like they're swimming in data," Chabot told InformationWeek. "The alternative for making sense of it all are traditional enterprise business intelligence platforms, and they are universally complicated, development intensive, slow-moving, expensive, inflexible for end users and understood by a small priesthood of people."
Tableau, by contrast, focuses on "fast, easy, visual products for everyone," said Chabot. The company got its start in 2003, long before big data was on anybody's radar. In recent years Tableau, along with QlikTech (which had a successful IPO in 2010), has been among the fastest-growing vendors in the business intelligence market, outpacing far larger BI platform vendors including SAP BusinessObjects, Oracle, IBM Cognos and MicroStrategy.
[ Want more on the latest analytics trends? Read Gartner Magic Quadrant Looks Beyond Business Intelligence. ]
The platform vendors that Chabot maligns have added data-visualization and ad-hoc data-exploration modules to try to match the ease-of-use appeal of Tableau and QlikTech, but Chabot insists that "the goliaths" are missing the point in thinking of it as just being about visualization.
"We're helping companies of all sizes complete BI projects and empower their employees with data for fact-based decision making at speeds that are at 10 to 100 times faster than you can do it with these old-school systems," Chabot said.
Competitors contend that Tableau's initial appeal wears off as customers realize that it's a "limited" solution for departments and individual users, according to MicroStrategy president Paul Zolfaghari.
"We enable business users to deploy information and analytics quickly, but we do that without sacrificing having a single version of the truth, an enterprise architecture and shared metadata," Zolfaghari recently told InformationWeek.
Chabot counters that Tableau has added server-based systems for centralized control. It has also recently added an in-memory database platform and is venturing into predictive analytics to move beyond BI and provide forward-looking analysis and actionable intelligence.
Tableau raised $254 million through its IPO, but Chabot insists the company was already profitable and that it was more important to raise the company's profile and credibility than to raise money through the IPO. The company's revenue doubled to $127.7 million in 2012, up from $62.4 million in 2011. Net income was $1.4 million in 2012 and $3.4 million in 2011.
Marketo is smaller and younger than Tableau, but it's capitalizing on growing demand for systems to support digital marketing. The company's cloud-based marketing automation software is aimed primarily at managing business-to-business campaigns, and it's often used in combination with cloud-based CRM systems including Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. The company's revenue was $58 million in 2012, up 81% from $32 million in 2011.
Marketo, which was founded in 2007, raised $78 million through its IPO, money it says it will pour into expanding its marketing application portfolio and increasing sales and marketing firepower. The company competes most directly with Eloqua, which was recently acquired by Oracle for $871 million.
"We saw when we started the company that SaaS was going to change everything," co-founder and CEO Phil Fernandez told Silicon Valley Mercury News on Friday, "because it was going to let us be a company that could think about 'how could we get to 100,000 customers' rather than 'how do we get to 1,000 customers.'"