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June 6, 2019updated 07 Jun 2019 9:35am

Google to Buy Business Intelligence Startup Looker for $2.6 Billion

Two companies already share 350 customers including Buzzfeed

By CBR Staff Writer

Google has agreed to buy analytics and business intelligence startup Looker for $2.6 billion, in the first major acquisition of new Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian’s reign.

Bay Area-based Looker was founded in 2011. The definite agreement builds on an existing partnership between the two companies, which share more than 350 joint customers, including Buzzfeed, Hearst, King, Sunrun, WPP Essence, and Yahoo!.

On close of the acquisition Looker will become part of Google Cloud.

Looker is a unified data platform provider. It has a 1,700-strong customer base that includes Amazon, IBM, Kickstarter, Sony, Spotify and The Economist and has offices in San Francisco, New York, Boulder, London, Tokyo and Dublin

Looker CEO Frank Bien hastened to reassure customers using the company’s analytics tools on other cloud databases that their operational freedom would be supported.

“For customers and partners, it’s important to know that today’s announcement solidifies ours as well as Google Cloud’s commitment to multi-cloud. Looker customers can expect continuing support of all cloud databases like Amazon Redshift, Azure SQL, Snowflake, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Teradata and more.”

Kurian said: “Looker extends our business analytics offering with two important capabilities—first, the ability to define business metrics once in a consistent way across data sources. This makes it easy for anyone to query data while maintaining consistent definitions in their calculations, ensuring teams get accurate results. Second, Looker also provides users with a powerful analytics platform that delivers applications for business intelligence and use-case specific solutions such as Sales Analytics, as well as a flexible, embedded analytics product to collaborate on business decisions.”

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CloudBees CEO Sacha Labourey told Computer Business Review: “People can no longer say that Google hasn’t done a big deal in enterprise software.”

He added: “This is a strong signal to the market IMO, Kurian is in full execution mode and he has now shown he is able to get access to the heavy Google pockets, this will likely trigger a lot more activity in the space.”

A Magic Quadrant Contender… 

Looker’s offering is recognised in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms. Gartner said of the company: “Looker differentiates itself by offering a data platform that, in addition to supporting visualizations and dashboards, enables data engineers to model data and then pass data and calculations on to other applications. Its platform can also be used to build analytical applications.”

A large majority of Looker’s reference customers use it for decentralised analytics (72 percent)l just over half also use it for centralised BI provisioning, Gartner said, adding: “Looker’s key differentiator is native support for cloud-based analytic databases, particularly Amazon (Redshift, Athena), Google BigQuery and Snowflake. “

“Whereas most competing tools use their own in-memory, columnar storage, Looker always uses the database for processing and mashups. LookML is a browser-based, SQL-like modeling language for power users. Its data scalability is in the top tier, with 36% of Looker’s reference customers analyzing more than 1 terabyte of data and a median of 585 million row tables.”

A primary criticism: poor ease-of-use. The report notes: “As Looker’s data modeling requires coding, business users find its product more difficult to use than point-and-click solutions. A large percentage of its reference customers (40%) said that poor ease of use for business users limits broad deployment — the highest figure for any vendor in this Magic Quadrant.”

Google Buys Looker: Company to Retain Multicloud Functionality

Google move fast to reassure Looker customers that it will retain Looker’s multi-cloud functionality and its ability to bring together data from SaaS applications like Salesforce, Marketo, and Zendesk, as well as traditional data sources, saying: “This empowers companies to create a cohesive layer built on any cloud database, as well as on other Public Clouds, and in on-premise data centers.”

Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian added: “Looker customers can rest assured that the high-quality support experience that Looker has provided will be bolstered by the resources, expertise, and global presence of our Cloud team. We will also continue to support best of breed analytics and visualization tools to provide customers the choice to use a variety of technologies with Google Cloud’s Analytics offering.”

Sisense (which merged with Periscope Data in the last month) CEO, Amir Orad said in an emailed comment: “Today’s acquisition by Google is just one example of the enormous market opportunity for data analytics to transform businesses as enterprise companies and SMBs alike want to dig deeper into data at every level. Everyone can become analytic builders but to do so they needed to end, a true hybrid-cloud, open platform to do their jobs with more flexibility and power, without being limited to working with proprietary languages locked to specific database.”

More to follow.

See also: Now IBM’s Bought Red Hat, Who Does Google Buy?


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