Salesforce announced it is paying $15.7 billion in an all-stock deal to acquire Tableau Software, whose products let companies build charts and lists from their business data in order to better understand it. It’s by far the largest acquisition in Salesforce’s 20-year history, and the company is paying a premium of more than 40% based on Tableau’s closing share price on Friday.
The deal is the latest sign of Salesforce’s strategy of diversifying beyond its core customer management applications. While it could be argued that Salesforce is overpaying for Tableau, the deal establishes the SaaS giant as a leader in what is known as “business intelligence” software. Microsoft, which beat out Salesforce to acquire LinkedIn three years ago, is making large investments in this segment as well. And, the deal follows by just days Google’s $2.6 billion purchase of Looker, another data analytics firm.
Since former Amazon executive Adam Selipsky took the helm at Tableau in 2016, the company has more than held its own against Microsoft while also pulling off a shift to selling is software via subscriptions, as we reported in February. These factors likely weighed prominently in Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff decision to go after Tableau.