Tableau's new CEO — as AWS poaches its former boss — is a product-focused leader that analysts say can 'bring the pieces together' with Salesforce

  • Salesforce has named Mark Nelson as Tableau’s new CEO as Adam Selipsky leaves for AWS.
  • Nelson is a product-focused leader with previous experience at SAP-owned Concur and Oracle. 
  • He has the expertise Salesforce needs as it integrates Tableau two years post-acquisition, analysts say.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

With Adam Selipsky leaving Salesforce-owned Tableau to become chief executive of Amazon’s cloud business, exec Mark Nelson is stepping up as the data analytics firm’s new CEO. 

Nelson first joined Tableau in 2018 as its executive VP of product development, leading its global engineering team, having previously served as chief technology officer at SAP-owned Concur for roughly four years and spending 16 years at Oracle in various product roles. 

“With 25 years of enterprise software experience, Mark has been on the Tableau leadership team for three years and he has deep relationships with our customers and employees,” a Salesforce spokesperson said. “We look forward to Tableau’s continued momentum and customer success.”

Outgoing Selipsky is credited with revamping the data analytics company after he joined in 2016, including by accelerating its move to the cloud. Despite being a rising star within Salesforce post-Tableau acquisition, Selipsky may have decided to move on in part because he’d risen as high as he could, given that Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff’s successor is widely rumored to be COO Bret Taylor, analysts said. 

While Nelson is not widely known outside the company, his product expertise likely helped him stand out to Salesforce as it continues to try to integrate Tableau almost two years after it acquired the company for over $15 billion in 2019, said Valoir analyst Rebecca Wettemann. 

“Marc recognizes — and Wall Street certainly recognizes — that there’s more runway in the Tableau acquisition for Salesforce,” Wettemann said. “So having somebody who can think about, strategically, how that fits into the portfolio and then how to execute on it: That’s super important right now.”

Over the last year, Salesforce has increasingly started to integrate Tableau into its other products, including integrations with Salesforce’s AI analytics customer relationship management (CRM) product, which it renamed Tableau CRM. Nelson’s appointment hints at the direction that Salesforce could take Tableau’s product development. 

“What we see is Salesforce looking at Tableau’s great data visualization capabilities as the next generation of embedded intelligence within CRM,” Wettemann said. “What you need given where Tableau sits in the Salesforce portfolio right now is somebody that can lay those steps out at a high-level and be able to bring the pieces together — and he seems like a good fit for that.”

Gartner analyst Jason Wong agreed that there’s “still plenty of integration and architecture reconciliation work to be done between Tableau and Salesforce CRM” and that “selecting a strong technology and product leader in Mark Nelson is an indication of this important work all the way up to the Tableau CEO level.

Nelson’s background with cloud infrastructure at Oracle will also be beneficial to Salesforce overall, said Futurum Research analyst Dan Newman. In December, Salesforce announced Hyperforce, a new architecture for its platform that allows it to run on any public cloud.

Nelson’s time at Oracle will be a plus, he said: “Having people that have diverse experience on the infrastructure and the software side is going to be important.”

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