Salesforce to acquire Tableau for $15.7 billion to combine Einstein’s AI with BI bulk

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Salesforce is to acquire business intelligence (BI) visualisation software provider Tableau in a $15.7 billion (£12.4bn) all-stock deal – with the aim to improve customer journeys through the fusion of artificial intelligence (AI) and big data.

The acquisition, which was announced by both companies earlier today (June 10), will see Tableau’s data visualisation tools baked into Salesforce in order to further the latter’s mission to ‘deliver customer success by enabling a truly unified and powerful view across all of a customer’s data.’

Here’s the key quote from the press materials:

“Salesforce pioneered AI for CRM with Salesforce Einstein, and today delivers AI-powered analytics for sales and marketing. With Tableau and Einstein together, Salesforce will deliver the most intelligent and intuitive analytics and visualisation platform for every department and every user at any company. Tableau will make both Customer 360 and Salesforce’s analytics capabilities stronger than ever, and enable the company to reach a much broader set of customers and users.”

Alongside this, the two companies see synergy in their communities. Salesforce has more than 1.4 million users of its educational Trailblazer tool, with an additional million cited as part of the Tableau community.

Writing a letter to the more than 4,000 Tableau employees – or ‘tabloids’, as the company curiously calls them – president and CEO Adam Selipsky noted the rationale behind the move. “Our mission remains the same,” Selpisky wrote. “We have much work left to do to help people see and understand data – and to make the world a better place in the process. Now we will be able to dramatically accelerate our ability to pursue that mission and become the defining company that ushers in the era of analytics ubiquity: accelerated ubiquity.”

“We are bringing together the world’s #1 CRM with the #1 analytics platform,” added Marc Benioff, Salesforce chairman and co-CEO in a statement. “Tableau helps people see and understand data, and Salesforce helps people engage and understand customers. It’s truly the best of both worlds for our customers – bringing together two critical platforms that every customer needs to understand their world.”

Tableau is bringing its own AI expertise to the table. The company acquired Empirical Systems, an MIT-originated startup, this time last year, with Empirical’s automated statistical analysis technology being used to give customers greater insight into their data.

A report into the state of enterprise software published by venture capital firm Work-Bench in August noted Tableau was ahead of the curve. Data visualisation is one aspect, but getting reports in natural language, or ascribing even greater insights? “Expect all modern BI vendors to release an [automated machine learning] product or buy a startup by [the] end of next year,” Work-Bench wrote.

From Salesforce’s perspective, the deal dwarfs that of its previously most expensive purchase, of application network platform provider MuleSoft for $6.5bn last March.

You can read the full announcement here.

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