A Tableau IPO could validate the big data visualization push — or not

When Tableau Software’s IPO actually happens, it could validate — or poke a hole in — the hype bubbling up around data visualization, a market segment some experts predict will hit $51 billion within three years.

Tuesday, Seattle-based Tableau filed for an IPO with an initial “placeholder” value of up to $150 million. Unlike many tech companies going this route, Tableau is profitable, with net income of $2.7 million in 2010, $3.4 million in 2011, and $1.6 million in 2012. Its revenue more than doubled last year to $127 million. It also boasts an impressive customer list including Bank of America, Barclays, Pfizer, Goldman Sachs and others.

Total venture funding for the company, which will trade on the NYSE under the ticker symbol “DATA,” stands at $15 million in two rounds, both from NEA.

Tableau is not the first new-look data visualization company to go public.  Competitor QlikView went public in July 2010 at $15 per share and is now trading at $24.70. Splunk(s splk), which analyzes and visualizes machine data, went public last August at $17 per share and is now trading at just over $39 per share.

The company’s challenge going forward will be to keep up the pace it has set thus far with its “80+ percent year-over-year growth,” said Ovum analyst Fredric Tunvall.  The company will clearly need to keep investing and it may be hard to manage shareholder expectations based on past performance, he said in a statement.

At the same time it must add more advanced and richer analytics to the mix and factor in back-end data management capabilities including data integration, data quality and master data management, Tunvall added in a research note.


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