Tableau’s IPO ‘book’ is tech’s next bestseller

Contact: Brenon Daly

The prospectus a company files with the SEC in order to go public is nothing more than a book. And like other books, some of them languish on the shelves, collecting dust. Most attract only a little interest, with a handful of curious readers cracking open the covers. But every once in a while, a book so compelling comes along that it literally flies off the shelves. Readers can’t wait to get their hands on it.

Tableau Software, which revealed its IPO paperwork on Tuesday afternoon, is the tech industry’s next bestseller.

The data-visualization vendor had been expected to put in its prospectus about now. If anything, however, the anticipation has increased for Tableau’s offering because of the financials in its filing. The company doubled revenue in 2012 to $127.7m. Last year’s growth rate is notably higher than the mid-80% range Tableau put up in the two previous years, even though it is operating on a much larger revenue base. Its sales in 2012 were nearly 10 times higher than in 2008.

And unlike other hyper-growth tech vendors, Tableau turns a profit. Even on a GAAP basis, the company has been in the black since 2010. It has an accumulated deficit of just $1.5m. That’s pocket change compared with most other IPO wannabes, some of which have burned through tens of millions of dollars – or even more than $100m – to make it to the public market.

When Tableau does hit the market in about a month, we figure it will command a valuation of roughly $2bn. That would put it, rightfully so, on the same shelf as the bestselling IPOs from 2012: Workday, Splunk, Palo Alto Networks and ServiceNow. On average, those companies trade at about 20x trailing sales.

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