Google Inc. announced on June 6, 2019, that it was acquiring data analytics start-up Looker for USD 2.6 billion in cash.
This is the fourth highest price paid by Google for an acquisition, its last big acquisition being Nest for USD 3.2 billion in 2014. This also marks as the first major acquisition for new Google Cloud Chief Executive Thomas Kurian, who took over the reins from Diane Green in November 2018.
Experts say that the addition of Looker to the Google Cloud division will help boost Google’s rank against its competitors – Microsoft and Amazon, both of whom provide cloud computing and database tools.
Google’s announcement on its company blog mentions that the addition of Looker to Google Cloud will, “help us offer customers a more complete analytics solution from ingesting data to visualizing results and integrating data and insights into their daily workflows.” The company adds that Looker will also help Google “deliver industry-specific analytics solutions in our key verticals, whether that’s supply chain analytics in retailing; media analytics in entertainment; or healthcare analytics at a global scale.”
Kurian Carving a Niche for Google Cloud
The acquisition builds on an existing partnership between the two companies; they already share more than 350 joint customers, such as Buzzfeed, Hearst, King, Sunrun, WPP Essence, and Yahoo!
In an interview, Kurian told Reuters that doubling down on analytics made sense as he looked to fill gaps in his unit. “When we looked at how we could broaden our portfolio, [data and analytics] is a segment where we have strength,” Kurian said. Looker is “complementary and completes our analytics foundation.”
Tech Crunch quoted Kurian at the media briefing saying, “The combination provides an end-to-end analytics platform to connect, collect, analyze and visualize data across Google Cloud, Azure, AWS, on-premises databases and ISV applications.”
Reuters quips that the deal also reflects Kurian’s plan to win customers with specialized software, as rivals focus on more general tools.
Frank Bien, CEO Looker, who is expected to stay with Google and report to Kurian, was also quoted by Tech Crunch saying, “What we wanted to do was disrupt this pretty staid ecosystem of data visualisation tools and data prep tools that companies were being forced to build solutions. We thought it was time to rationalize a new platform for data, a single place where we could really reconstitute a single view of information and make it available in the enterprise for business purposes.”
How will the Acquisition Impact the Data Analytics Future?
According to Google’s blog post, Looker extends two important capabilities for Google Cloud — 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.
“The combination of Google Cloud and Looker will enable us to further accelerate our leadership as a WordPress digital experience platform,” said Heather Brunner, Chairwoman and CEO, WP Engine, adding, “By combining our BigQuery data warehouse with extended BI and visualization tools from Looker, we’ll be empowered with faster, more actionable data insights that will help drive our business forward and better serve our customers.”
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Tech expert Jason Aten writes, “Look, Google, the company that pretty much collects every piece of data floating around the internet, is buying a company that helps make sense of data collected around the internet. Google wants to be more than just your business email and advertising partner.”
Analysts said Looker is among the best business intelligence tools developed in the cloud era and that it would benefit from Google’s resources. Equity research firm Cowen estimated Looker’s 2019 revenue would be about $140 million.
Boris Evelson, who follows data analytics for Forrester Research, called buying Looker “a smart choice.”
The acquisition is expected to be complete by the end of 2019.