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Looker that price tag: Google closes on $2.6bn acquisition of data analytics biz after all-clear from competition bods

Apparently the UK's CMA has never heard of Amazon

Google Cloud has completed its $2.6bn acquisition of data analytics and machine learning outfit Looker after getting the thumbs-up from the UK's competition authorities.

The purchase was first revealed last June, but was held up after the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) opened an investigation into the deal in December.

The CMA review found that the purchase would not affect prices or reduce quality because both companies still had plenty of competition from the likes of Microsoft, Oracle, Tableu, SAP and IBM.

"Together, we're excited to offer customers a comprehensive analytics solution that integrates and [offers] insights at every layer of their business," Google Cloud chief Thomas Kurian said in a blog post.

The buy is one of Google's biggest in recent times. The company dropped $2.1bn to slurp Fitbit, the second largest company in the wearables market, last year. Many observers said it was not hardware that was the most attractive part of the deal, but FitBit's data on more than 25 million users. Google insisted that the data would not be used to target its ads.

The search-'n'-ads giant does not have the best track record when it comes to acquisitions. Google bought Motorola for $12.5bn in 2012 only to sell it off to Lenovo for a paltry £2.9bn two years later. YouTube, Waze and Nest have been better investments.

Google is racing to catch up with Amazon Web Services, which had a 32.3 per cent market share in 2019, and Microsoft Azure, which had a 16.9 per cent market share for the period, according to Canalys. Google Cloud's share almost doubled to 5.8 per cent.

Joseph Antelmi, a senior analyst at Gartner, said the purchase fills some holes in Google's analytics and business intelligence (BI) arsenal. "Prior to this acquisition, Google had an analytics platform focused towards advertising and marketing, and an analytics platform that was a free tool for basic visualisation. Now they offer an enterprise-grade BI platform that will make them more competitive for analytics."

Antelmi he expects Google to showcase Looker's interoperability – its ability to connect to multiple data sources – which has become a priority for customers recently.

"By acquiring Looker, Google acquired one of the analytics and BI platforms that can offer the kind of interoperability that customers want," he said. "Because Looker doesn't require you to store the data, it can connect to data that sits on any one of these clouds. It's a competitive differentiator."

Founded in 2011, San Francisco-based Looker had amassed $280.5m in funding, according to Crunchbase. Its portfolio includes web and sales analytics and digital marketing analysis by simplifying the creation of dashboards, report building and developing models.

Both companies have worked together since last year and claim 350 shared customers.

The approval will come as a relief to Google as regulators continue their pursuit of tech giants. The Chocolate Factory is currently battling the EU in court over a €2.4bn fine for allegedly promoting its shopping search engine over smaller rivals. Earlier this week, the Federal Trade Commission ordered Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft to provide detailed information about their acquisitions of small companies.

Looker has 600 staff in eight locations including Dublin and London. It was founded by Lloyd Tabb, previously a principal engineer at Netscape. He also helped set up ®


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