Google announced on Thursday it agreed to acquire Looker, the maker of a leading business intelligence platform, in a $2.6 billion deal that will roll Looker into Google Cloud.
Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian, who departed Oracle in November to join the Mountain View, Calif.-based company, said the acquisition would let Google Cloud users define business metrics consistently across data sources and access an analytics platform aimed at business intelligence and use-case specific solutions.
"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," said Kurian in a blog post. "It will also help us 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 global scale."
Looker, founded in 2011 and backed by $280 million in venture capital, made it to Gartner's 2019 Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence platforms. Its modern web architecture and proprietary language for data warehouse description earned it popularity among businesses, especially VC-backed tech startups like Uber and WeWork, which were early adopters.
"The BI tool is the thing that galvanizes senior leaders to break out their checkbooks."
CEO, Fishtown Analytics
In a way, the move takes a page from Microsoft's book — said Rita Sallam, distinguished research vice president at Gartner — in that it allows Google to have access to its robust business intelligence tool, similar to what Power BI does for Azure.
Google and Looker complement each other well, said Sallam, because "Google has pieces of the analytics stack, but was missing a strong front-end analytics and BI tool." In turn, Google offers the drive behind its name and resources, as well as a competitive cloud service.
Though Kurian made it clear in his announcement that Looker's service would remain cloud-agnostic, one update to watch in the aftermath of the acquisition is whether that commitment stands or if Google decides to make Looker exclusive to the Google Cloud Platform.
"I'm sure that's the number one thing customers will look for," said Sallam in an interview with CIO Dive.
Tristan Handy, CEO of data analytics firm Fishtown Analytics, said news of the acquisition, in addition to Kurian's background, mean Google's aiming its cloud business at larger enterprises.
"The BI tool is the thing that galvanizes senior leaders to break out their checkbooks," said Handy in an interview with CIO Dive. "This is a big part of their enterprise strategy," one that will let Google lure customers with its BI tool, and then make a play for outfitting their entire stack with GCP.
Though numbers on Google's Cloud business have been scarce since last year, Google CFO Ruth Porat said in February the company saw "a really nice uptick" in the number of cloud deals greater than $100 million.
But Handy, whose firm does data analytics work for companies like Casper and SeatGeek, is concerned about sustaining the path of innovation it blazed early in the decade.
"As a person who uses Looker extensively, their roadmap has slowed down over the last year or two," the executive said. "If they move closer to enterprise, they'll probably want to focus more on existing SSO providers, air-gapped on-prem deployments and other things that aren't innovating on what got people excited about Looker in the first place."