While Mobile Is Hot Investors Get A Tableau

by: Dana Blankenhorn

Mobile is where you want to have your money, but for investors it's a relative desert.

That's because all the great mobile start-ups are being scooped up by big players like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO). The poster child for this, literally, was Yahoo's $30 million purchase of Summly, a summarization app created by Nick D'Aloisio, now 17.

But you can still invest in IPO software. It's just going to be enterprise software, like that created by Tableau Software, which filed an S-1 on April 2 anticipating the ticker symbol DATA.

Tableau seeks to sell $150 million in shares based on its data analytics software, which comes in desktop, server, and Web versions.

According to its S-1 Tableau has been doubling in size every year for the last three, bringing in over $127 million in revenues during 2012. It's actually making money, almost $1.6 million last year, and it's the "general and administrative" category that deserves the blame for lower profit in 2012, as it nearly tripled while other expense categories barely doubled.

This reads like a company run by adults. The company is now eight years old, it's based on technology developed by Christ Stolte while at Stanford, and the CTO is a Stanford professor. Co-founder Christian Cabot worked on enterprise software for Softbank Venture Capital before Tableau. It reads like a company that wants to maintain its independence and needs to do some more marketing to maintain its growth rate, a good place for IPO investors to be.

The company will have two classes of stock, and is selling A shares to the public while B shares, which have 10 times the voting rights, are held by insiders. The B shares seem to have capitalized the company at about $60 million, and won't trade. Only A shares are being sold, and B can be converted into A at a rate of one to one.

The company wants to raise $150 million on top of the $60 million already invested, meaning you're paying almost two times revenues for this even without an initial pop. It's the kind of stock you can buy and hold for a sale later, knowing that there are adults in the room who understand the game and know how to play it.

Who might buy Tableau? Eventually, the usual suspects, although this really has IBM (NYSE:IBM) written all over it, even though it's located very near Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) in Seattle. The founders are in no hurry for that day, however, and the IPO means they will have enough working capital to fund enough expansion to be patient.

Disclosure: I am long IBM, GOOG, YHOO. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.