Adam Selipsky returns to AWS as Tableau melds more into Salesforce

Adam Selipsky, CEO of data analytics company Tableau, has returned to AWS as its CEO – as Andy Jassy takes Jeff Bezos’ place as CEO of Amazon.com.

It’s not quite the Tableau of which Selipsky took the helm in 2016. The data visualisation specialist is now part of Salesforce. Moreover, the latest release of Tableau’s software sees its first foray into taking advantage of the AI in Salesforce Einstein Analytics. So, Adam is leaving just as Tableau is embarking on its first major synthesis with Salesforce – in technical terms.

Is there an element here of Tableau being less of a “thing”? For this level of West Coast US technology executive, being the CEO of a distinctive company has to be better than being CEO of a mere division of a bigger corporate entity? For one thing, the strategy for Tableau necessarily belongs, ultimately, to Marc Benioff as the founder, chairman and CEO of Salesforce.

I interviewed Adam back in 2019 about his strategy for Tableau. In that interview he asserted enterprise relevance for Tableau and predicted BI tools consolidation and a ubiquitous user base for analytics. In respect of the latter he said: “analytics will be another one of those knowledge worker applications that is used ubiquitously, with tens of millions, probably hundreds of millions of knowledge workers around the world – in time, not immediately”.

Since taking charge of the company, he has quadrupled Tableau’s market value and overseen the sale of Tableau to Salesforce (five months after I interviewed him).

He now returns to AWS, where he spent over a decade as the company’s vice-president for sales, marketing and support. Caroline Donnelly has covered Selipsky’s return to his cloud alma mater for Computer Weekly.

Meanwhile, back at the Tableau ranch, a company spokesperson provided CW with this comment today: “With Adam Selipsky leaving Tableau to pursue an opportunity outside of the company, Mark Nelson has been appointed President and CEO of Tableau. With 25 years of enterprise software experience, Mark has been on the Tableau leadership team for three years and he has deep relationships with our customers and employees. We look forward to Tableau’s continued momentum and customer success.”

Last week, I interviewed Andrew Beers, chief technology officer, Tableau about their inauguration of “business science”, which the supplier defines as “a new class of AI-powered analytics that lowers the barrier to data science techniques, enabling business users and analysts to make smarter decisions faster”.

The idea here is that while the data science behind a vaccine, say, has to be super exact while business people more need analytics to be good enough for fast decision making.

It was interesting to listen to Andrew, the seventh employee at Tableau, with sixteen and a half years’ service, talking about how the data people at Salesforce and the Tableau team have been coming together. The new Tableau release sees the first instance of the technologies of the two companies being synthesised. Previously, Tableau’s technology development path was autonomous – like the no-code data modelling functionality they released in 2020.

Andrew described the current update thus: “this is the first foray into the AI space of bringing the two technology sets together. Right now, it is geared to people who are customers of both [companies]. Einstein Discovery is built into the Salesforce platform. It’ll draw [formerly Tableau] customers into seeing what the rest of Salesforce has to offer, and vice versa. We are one big happy company now”.

And now, one with a new CEO, who has been Tableau’s head of product development since 2018.

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