Google has got into an agreement with data analytics startup Looker, and is planning to add it to its Google Cloud division. The acquisition will cost Google $2.6 billion in an all-cash transaction. After the acquisition, Looker organization will report to Frank Bien, who will report to Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud. Looker is Google’s biggest acquisition since it bought smart home company Nest for $3.2 billion in 2014.
Looker’s analytics platform uses business intelligence and data visualization tools. Founded in 2011, Looker has grown rapidly, now helping more than 1,700 companies understand and analyze their data. The company had raised more than $280 million in funding, according to Crunchbase. Looker spans the gap in two areas of data warehousing and Business Intelligence. Looker’s platform includes a modeling platform where the user codifies the view of the data using a SQL-like proprietary modeling language (LookML). It complements the modeling language with an end user visualization tool providing the self-service analytics portion.
Primarily, Looker will help Google Cloud become a complete analytics solution that will help customers in ingesting data to visualizing results and integrating data and insights into their daily workflows. Looker + Google Cloud will be used for:
- Connecting, analyzing and visualizing data across Google Cloud, Azure, AWS, on-premise databases or ISV SaaS applications
- Operationalizing BI for everyone with powerful data modeling
- Augmenting business intelligence from Looker with artificial intelligence from Google Cloud
- Creating collaborative, data-driven applications for industries with interactive data visualization and machine learning
Implications of Google + Locker
Google and Looker already have a strong existing partnership and 350 common customers (such as Buzzfeed, Hearst, King, Sunrun, WPP Essence, and Yahoo!) and this acquisition will only strength it. “We have many common customers we’ve worked with. One of the great things about this acquisition is that the two companies have known each other for a long time, we share very common culture,” Kurian said in a blog.
This is also a significant move by Google to gain market share from Amazon Web Services, which reported $7.7 billion in revenue for the last quarter. Google Cloud has been trailing behind Amazon and Microsoft in the cloud-computing market. Looker’s acquisition will hopefully make its service more attractive to corporations.
Looker’s CEO Frank Bien commented on the partnership as a chance to gain the scale of the Google cloud platform. “What we’re really leveraging here, and I think the synergy with Google Cloud, is that this data infrastructure revolution and what really emerged out of the Big Data trend was very fast, scalable — and now in the cloud — easy to deploy data infrastructure,” he said.
What is intriguing is Google’s timing and all-cash payment of this buyout. FCC, DOJ, and Congress are currently looking at bringing potential antitrust on Google and other big tech. According to widespread media reports the US Department of Justice is readying to investigate into Google. It has been reported that the probe would examine whether the tech giant broke antitrust law in the operation of its online and advertisement businesses.
According to Paul Gallant, a tech analyst with Cowen who focuses on regulatory issues, “A few years ago, this deal would have been waved through without much scrutiny. We’re in a different world today, and there might well be some buyer’s remorse from regulators on prior tech deals like this.”
Public reaction to this accusation has been mixed.
While some are happy:
— Rob Go (@robgo) June 6, 2019
And @GoogleCloud commitment to @LookerData customers
– Keep supporting different data sources and clouds
– Committed to positive #CX
– Customer choice
– One Google and Looker team pic.twitter.com/uWuHwsVxdE
— Holger Mueller (@holgermu) June 6, 2019
Others remain dubious:
“With Looker out of the way, the question turns to ‘What else is on Google’s cloud shopping list?,” said Aaron Kessler, a Rayond James analyst in a report. “While the breadth of public cloud makes it hard to list specific targets, vertical specific solutions appear to be a strategic priority for Mr. Kurian.”
There are also questions on if Google will limit Looker to BigQuery, or at least get the newest features first.
@Google acquires @LookerData to expand its @googlecloud portfolio. Will have to play catch up with market share leading incumbents and the long tail of the $12.7 billion #BI software market. But has a big opportunity to sell Looker independently and with #BigQuery
— Dan Vesset (@DanVesset) June 6, 2019
Then, there is the issue of whether Google will limit which clouds Looker can be run on. Although the company said, they will continue to support Looker’s multi-cloud strategy and will expand support for multiple analytics tools and data sources to provide customers choice. Google Cloud will also continue to expand Looker’s investments in product development, go-to-market, and customer success capabilities.
Google is also known for killing off its own products and also undermining some of its acquisition. With NEST for example, they said that it will be integrated with Google assistant. The decision was reversed only after a massive public backlash. Looker can also be one such acquisition, which may eventually merge with Google Analytics, Google’s proprietary Web analytics service.
The deal expected to close later this year, albeit subject to regulatory approval.