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Can Seattle startup Tableau flourish under Salesforce? New CEO thinks so

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Can Seattle startup Tableau flourish under Salesforce? New CEO thinks so


SEATTLE — On a sunny Tuesday around 1 p.m., Tableau’s Data 1 office in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood bustled with employees going out in groups for lunch or walking around the office overlooking the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

Among them was Tableau CEO Ryan Aytay, who lives in the Bay Area but was visiting for the week. He wore a “DataFam,” the Tableau community’s name, lapel pin on his black jacket.

Tableau was founded in 2003 in California and moved its headquarters to Seattle the next year, where the data analytics firm established itself as a tech startup on the rise. In 2019, tech giant Salesforce acquired the company for nearly $16 billion, inking what was at the time the second-largest acquisition of a Washington company.

Tableau is a data visualization tool through which users can create interactive charts. Its parent company is a leader in products for companies to manage sales data and customer relations.

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Tableau’s leadership changed over the years as former CEO Adam Selipsky left in 2021 to become chief executive of Amazon Web Services. His replacement, Tableau veteran Mark Nelson, departed in December 2022 after less than two years as president and CEO.

Appointed CEO in May, Aytay’s goal is cementing the future of Tableau within Salesforce while maintaining Tableau’s own identity.

Aytay became CEO during a difficult year for Tableau, one marked by “wakes,” office subleasing and layoffs. Tableau’s future as an independent part of the Salesforce business software empire remains a point of tension as Salesforce prioritizes profitability after years of aggressive expansion. At the Data 1 building lobby, a Salesforce sign greeted employees and visitors.

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Salesforce announced more layoffs last month, affecting 700 jobs, which represents 1% of its workforce. A spokesperson declined to say if the round affected Tableau employees.

Aytay said one of his goals is to build a culture at Tableau that is both a part of Salesforce but also stands on its own.

“We need to continue to evolve. And so that’s what we’ve been really focused on, is how do we bring the spark and liven it up with the culture?” Aytay said.

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A Salesforce veteran appointed to lead Tableau nine months ago, Aytay travels to Seattle at least twice a month. He’s in charge of creating a second chapter for Tableau after a year of layoffs and leadership vacancies.

Aytay joined San Francisco-based Salesforce 17 years ago and has held several different roles at the business software maker, including chief business officer from June 2020 to February 2022. He served as Tableau’s president and chief revenue officer from February 2022 to May.

“Because I’d had so many different experiences at Salesforce, I saw an opportunity with Tableau to come in and bring it closer to Salesforce but also recognize what it is and what’s important about it and what differentiates Tableau,” Aytay said in an interview with The Seattle Times.

Aytay said in an interview that Tableau’s revenue has more than doubled since the acquisition.

Tableau grew by 16% year over year in the third quarter of the current fiscal year, released in November. That was faster than Salesforce’s total revenue growth. Valued at $287 billion as of Tuesday, the tech giant reported $8.7 billion in revenue during the same quarter, up 11% from the previous year.

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Tableau could grow even faster with more integration with Salesforce’s products, said Rishi Jaluria, a managing director at global investment bank RBC Capital Markets.

“The idea [is] that if someone’s using Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud from Salesforce, Tableau is really well integrated and it becomes like another button,” Jaluria said.

Salesforce also owns internal workplace communications platform Slack, having acquired it for $28 billion in 2021.

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According to a Salesforce spokesperson, Tableau can blend Salesforce data to provide analytics for everyone in an organization.

Jaluria also said Salesforce and Tableau have a competitor: Microsoft and its data visualization platform, Power BI.

For Aytay, what differentiates Tableau from Microsoft’s Power BI is its leadership and community. Tableau’s die-hard fans — the “DataFam” — are a selling point for the platform.

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“We have this really vibrant community,” Aytay said.

Tableau’s next chapter

Salesforce bought Tableau to enable customers to use data across their entire businesses and, as Salesforce put it when announcing the acquisition, use Tableau’s insights “to make smarter decisions” and “accelerate innovation.”

Those aspirations remain prominent among Aytay’s goals. He wants Tableau to attract customers outside of the data analytics field with a new product, Tableau Pulse. Pulling up his phone, he showed how business owners, for example, can use Pulse to get quick statistics about sales. The artificial intelligence-enabled product was announced in December.

The first phase of Tableau “was really all about changing the industry” by revolutionizing the analytics field by making it easier to use, he said. Tableau’s next step is “to really enter into businesses,” nonprofits and universities.

“We want to continue that focus on the analyst, but we need to evolve the brand,” Aytay said. “We want to bring analytics and data to everyone.”

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Aytay is the right person for the Tableau CEO job, said R “Ray” Wang, principal analyst and founder of Constellation Research, a tech research and advisory firm. Before Aytay’s appointment, Tableau had gone five months without a CEO.

Aytay “has been building out the AI strategy. He’s been trying to figure out how to pull it together,” Wang said. “He’s been at Salesforce before, so he knows what Marc [Benioff, Salesforce CEO] wants, he knows how to put them all together. And I think that’s half the battle.”

Among Aytay’s first tasks was rebuilding the senior leadership team, starting with his old role of chief revenue officer, now occupied by Salesforce veteran Jennifer Lagaly. Now, Aytay said Tableau is growing and hiring, especially in the artificial intelligence field.

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Compared with last year, he said, “we’re now at a point where we have it more figured out.”





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Seattle, WA

Happy Food Is Very Quietly One of the CID’s Best New Restaurants

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Happy Food Is Very Quietly One of the CID’s Best New Restaurants


She goes by Chef Ye to her regulars, but her full name is Aifang Ye, the “Ai” being the Chinese character meaning “love.” Love is what Ye and her new restaurant Happy Food exude despite challenging circumstances: Her English is limited and she works mostly alone, operating Happy Food on a corner of the Chinatown-International District that — like many corners of downtown Seattle — struggles with visible signs of poverty and drug use.

Like Tanya Nguyen at nearby Chu Minh Tofu, Ye sometimes helps feed her unhoused neighbors. Volunteers who help with Nguyen’s food giveaways acted as translators so Eater Seattle could interview Ye in Mandarin.

The Happy Food owner hails from Taizhou, a coastal town in Zhejiang Province, about 200 miles south of Shanghai. She first learned cooking from her mother (who she describes as just an average cook), and by age 10 she had mastered the complexity of making zongzi (sticky rice dumplings wrapped with bamboo leaves). She upped her cooking game upon getting married and needing to cook for family, then brought that passion to bidding for the business to run a buffet-style cafeteria in a factory setting serving nearly 200 workers.

In 2019, Ye followed her husband and son to Las Vegas where they easily found construction work, while she became a pui yuet, or confinement nanny — someone who prepares meals and herbal medicines for new mothers, who in the Chinese tradition stay at home to recuperate 30 days after giving birth. She continued that work when she moved with her family to Bellevue in 2021 for a nicer environment with cooler weather. But soon, with desire to be independent and entrepreneurial, she jumped on an affordable opportunity to lease a less-than-desirable spot at the corner of 12th Avenue and Jackson to open Happy Food at the end of 2023.

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Save for occasional moments when her husband comes to help, Happy Food is a one-woman show: Ye greets customers with an exuberant smile, beckons them to sit, takes orders, cooks, serves, and cleans — all with little more English than “Thank you very much.”

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Fermented rice ball soup at Happy Food.
Jay Friedman

A plate of fish topped with greens and chiles.

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Fish with scallion oil at Happy Food.
Jay Friedman

Happy Food’s menu is simple and understated (think “potato chips salad” and “braised chicken leg”), making it hard for diners who don’t know Chinese characters to anticipate the dishes and to know what to order. And while Zhejiang cuisine is considered one of the eight traditional cuisines of China, that’s not the restaurant theme. Ye says that her food reflects a variety of dishes she ate in Taizhou, prepared with her own spin.

What diners can count on is that the food is delicious. The stir-fried green beans pack the punch of ya cai (a type of preserved mustard green). Fish filets float in a sauce of fragrant house-made scallion oil that finds people reaching for another portion of the self-service rice. Cabbage comes rustically stir-fried in large pieces, available “plain” or spiked with vinegar. Especially popular with Asian clientele are the braised pork intestines, cut large for extra chewiness and mixed with meaty and tender King oyster mushrooms, cooked to the desired level of spiciness.

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There’s more — not all of it on the menu. Ye will enthusiastically show other dishes she can make, many doughy delights like pumpkin mantou and dumplings made with mugwort in the wrappers and zesty pork and vegetables in the filling.

People are still learning about the place, perhaps skeptical of the location, but the regulars happily return. On a recent visit, a table of diners delighted in the food, saying that whether from Taiwan or different parts of China like Hong Kong and Shanghai, they feel at home when eating at Happy Food. The restaurant truly has a home-style vibe, the food reasonably priced and served with a warm smile.

Ye wouldn’t let Eater Seattle take a photo of her. She declined to talk about the homelessness and drug use endemic to the area. What’s most important, Ye says, is that “Anyone can come in and really enjoy the food. Having people enjoy it brings me happiness. I have passion for it.”

1043 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA

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Seattle, WA

Seattle Opera presents Malcolm X’s life

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Seattle Opera presents Malcolm X’s life


For the first time ever, Seattle Opera is presenting a mainstage production of a work by a Black composer. With a score that blends elements of jazz and swing into traditional opera, X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X (Feb. 24 – March 9) traces the civil rights leader’s life from his childhood in Lansing, Mich., to his assassination in Harlem.

The opera was the first composed by Anthony Davis, who has since created seven more — including The Central Park Five, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2020. But when X was first performed in 1985, biographical operas — much less operas about Black figures in recent history — were not commonly seen on stages. 

X went largely unperformed for decades, until a collaboration of several opera companies brought it back to life with a grand restaging that premiered at the Detroit Opera in 2022, appeared at New York City’s Metropolitan Opera in 2023 and now takes the Seattle Opera stage.

In addition to exploring the cultural and historical significance of Malcolm X, the piece reflects a vital shift in contemporary opera: an effort to bring diverse and important real-world stories to the stage.

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As soprano Leah Hawkins told Crosscut Now when we went behind the scenes during a rehearsal of X, “I don’t want [it to be] a ‘special event’ that we’re doing this Black show. It should be normal. We should see Black stories, we should see Asian stories, we should see Hispanic stories … It should be normal.”

Watch the full interview and rehearsal footage in this episode. Plus, we take a look back at 50 years of the Boldt Decision, and legislators consider a financial safety net for striking WA workers.





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Seattle, WA

Seattle weather: Mild conditions with sunbreaks on Thursday

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Seattle weather: Mild conditions with sunbreaks on Thursday


Wednesday was a gray and soggy day, but temperatures were mild today, once again warming into the lower 50s.

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Enjoy the warm-up, as we are tracking cooler temperatures for early next week. 

Overall, rainfall amounts today were generally light, but we did have a few brief, heavy downpours. Rainfall amounts ranged from just a few hundredths of an inch to more than a half inch. 

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Showers will continue through tonight into early Thursday. By Thursday afternoon, skies will turn partly cloudy and fog will form overnight and early Friday morning. 

With the additional sunshine, afternoon highs tomorrow will be warmer. Some spots will even see the upper 50s.

We continue to monitor the snowpack in the Cascades. They remain low, but a cold, wet system heading our way is forecast to bring 1-2 feet of snow to our mountains! The heaviest snowfall will be between Sunday and Tuesday. Be sure to monitor the mountain passes during that time if traveling. 

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While the mountains are picking up some much-needed snow, Sunday will be very wet in the lowlands. Snow levels will lower to near the surface and the lowlands may again see a wintry mix with some minor accumulations on grassy spots. Monday and Tuesday morning is the best time to see this. We will continue to watch this forecast closely in the coming days. 



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