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Millions and millions served by Tableau Public

Tableau Public’s score so far reads like one of those old McDonald’s marquees: 4.5 million people have visited data visualizations hosted by the site, says Tableau Software VP of marketing Elissa Fink.

More than 30,000 visualizations — “vizes” — have been published. The most popular of all, says Elissa, have been the ones about homes, personal budgets, and leisure. One of her own favorites is a local real estate blog, Seattle Bubble. “I wish I could have seen blogger Tim Ellis’s data in Tableau Public before I bought my house.”

Another favorite of Tableau staff, who are said to have a healthy contingent of foodies among them, is about cows and their milk. Vizzer Kate Golden at Wisconsin Watch charted the number of cows over the last 80 years in Wisconsin with the gallons they produced. Dairy farmers have 47 percent fewer cows today than at the peak in 1944 and ’45, and they squeeze three times more milk out of the cows they do have. In a YouTube-like moment, vizzer Carpe Diem responded. He mashed in milk prices. They’ve fallen, though it’s unclear how much; the viz fails to note whether the prices are adjusted for inflation.

The visit count keeps accelerating. Past growth feeds more growth. The big names that have joined in help, such as USA Today, The Seattle Times, and CNN Money. There are also influential bloggers like Mish’s Economic Blog and Infectious Greed also pull in visits. But the highest growth rate is among sports bloggers, such as pistonpowered.com and school bloggers like Gothamschools.org.

The “beef” — as in “where’s the beef?” — is whether Tableau Public really is becoming the YouTube of data? It seems to be on the way there.

The crucial factor that distinguishes the YouTube from the NotYouTube is the network effect. The genuine YouTube is the default, the unquestioned center stage. An also-ran may have faster servers, nicer staff, and more permissive rules, but it’s still not YouTube. With volume like this, Tableau Public is well on its way to becoming a true YouTube.

In the meantime, there seems to be another reason for satisfaction at Tableau Software. Elissa asserts “plenty of evidence” that new, purchased licenses for Tableau Desktop and Tableau Server are coming in that started with awareness of Tableau Public.

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