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The Visual Organization: Data Visualization, Big Data, and the Quest for Better Decisions by Phil Simon

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Preface: A Tale of Two IPOs

Every word or concept, clear as it may seem to be, has only a limited range of applicability.

—Werner Heisenberg

Christian Chabot had to be at least a little nervous when he woke up in Manhattan on the morning of May 17, 2013. More than a decade's worth of work would be coming to fruition in only a few hours. In 2003, Chabot—along with Chris Stolte and Pat Hanrahan—founded a little data-visualization company by the name of Tableau Software. (Tableau had started in 1996 as a research project at Stanford University funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.) Chabot served as the company's CEO, a position that he still holds today. At 9:30 a.m. EST on that May morning, Tableau would go public on the New York Stock Exchange with the apropos stock symbol of $DATA. Adding to the day's tension, Chabot and his team would be ringing the opening bell to commence the day's trading.

Now, under any circumstances, any company founder/CEO would be anxious about such a historic occasion. Chabot, however, was probably more restless than most in his position. Tableau's public launch was taking place in an environment best described as ominous. This initial public offering (IPO) was by no means a slam-dunk. To Chabot, the halcyon days of the dot-com era must have seemed like a million years ago. And, more recently, May 17, 2013, was almost exactly a year to the day after Facebook went public in arguably the most botched IPO in U.S. history. It was a day that would live ...

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