The deal comes less than a week after Google acquired data analytics firm Looker.
For Salesforce, this is the largest acquisition in company history, more than double the $6.5 billion it paid for MuleSoft in March 2018.
Salesforce will use Tableau's technology to enable business intelligence through new data visualizations. The deal is also expected to position Salesforce to compete more strongly with Microsoft, which offers its own Power BI data visualization platform.
"We are bringing together the world's number one CRM with the number one analytics platform. 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," said Marc Benioff, chairman and co-CEO of Salesforce, in a statement.
"Salesforce's incredible success has always been based on anticipating the needs of our customers and providing them the solutions they need to grow their businesses," said Keith Block, co-CEO of Salesforce, in a statement. "Data is the foundation of every digital transformation, and the addition of Tableau will accelerate our ability to deliver customer success by enabling a truly unified and powerful view across all of a customer's data."
With Tableau and Einstein together, Salesforce will deliver an intelligent analytics and visualization platform for every department and every user at any company.
More than 86,000 organizations around the world, such as Charles Schwab, Verizon, Schneider Electric, Southwest and Netflix, rely on Tableau to help them see and understand data.
As part of Salesforce, Tableau will operate independently under the Tableau brand, remain headquartered in Seattle, and continue to be led by Adam Selipsky, its current CEO and president.
"Joining forces with Salesforce will enhance our ability to help people everywhere see and understand data," Selipsky said in a statement. "As part of the world's number one CRM company, Tableau's intuitive and powerful analytics will enable millions more people to discover actionable insights across their entire organizations. I'm delighted that our companies share very similar cultures and a relentless focus on customer success. I look forward to working together in support of our customers and communities."
Byron Matthews, president and CEO of sales consulting firm Miller Heiman Group, sees the acquisition having "a profound impact on the entire sales industry."
"Business intelligence that comes from providers like Tableau is at an inflection point and a huge part of what defines a world-class sales organization," he said in an email.
Dustin Grosse, chief marketing and strategy officer at Nintex, a process management and workflow automation firm, says the deal "raises the bar on data analytics and visualization for the entire CRM industry," pointing out that the move gives Salesforce an edge over Microsoft. "Eventually having analytics/visualization more natively embedded within Salesforce CRM offers tremendous potential value and convenience to sellers, marketers, and general managers," he said in an email.