The Looker acquisition
Late last week, Google announced it would buy Looker for its Cloud, in a $2.6 billion all-cash transaction. The tech giant’s venture capital arm had previously invested in Looker, and Google said it already shared more than 350 customers with the data platform.
Looker, which says it has more than 1600 corporate customers, allows marketers to ingest data from websites, email tools like MailChimp and SendGrid, Salesforce’s customer relationship management system, payment providers like Stripe, Zendesk’s help desk, and other platforms.
The data can be used, for instance, to build customer cohorts in Looker, and then exported to such destination tools as retargeting tool AdRoll, marketing platform Marketo (now owned by Adobe) and testing tool Optimizely.
Filling a ‘hole’ in Google’s portfolio
This acquisition is the first major one for Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian, who entered that position in November of last year. Per marketing research firm Canalys, Google Cloud has only 7.6% of the cloud market through the end of 2018, compared to 32% for Amazon Web Services and nearly 14% for Microsoft, so this could boost Google’s competitive position.
IDC analyst Dan Vesset told Wired that this acquisition fills a “hole” in Google Cloud’s portfolio, since it doesn’t have a “front-end tool that lets business analysts slice and dice data.” As a data analytics tool, Looker is designed to handle large data storage, such as offered by Google Cloud.
Kurian told journalists that Looker will continue to work with other services, such as those offered by Amazon and Microsoft. Competitors include Microsoft’s Power BI, Domo, and Tableau, the latter of which Salesforce said Monday that it was acquiring. That all-stock transaction was valued at $15.7 billion.
Salesforce’s latest data platform purchase
The CRM giant said that, along with its Einstein layer of AI intelligence, the Salesforce cloud can now offer the “most intelligent and intuitive analytics and visualization platform.” Tableau offers the ability to combine, cleanse, and visually display insights from a variety of data sources. As Google said about Looker, Salesforce said that Tableau will continue to work with competitors.
The Salesforce acquisition is just the latest in a string of data analytics platform purchases, as it competes with Adobe, Oracle, SAP, and others on the quality of its data and its data capabilities. Last year, it acquired Datorama, which uses AI to provide marketing intelligence based on data from multiple tools, and it bought data integration vendor MuleSoft.
In 2016, it purchased the data management platform Krux, bringing in-house the capability to conduct large-scale audience segmentation and targeting. Other data-related acquisitions in 2016 included business intelligence provider Beyond Core, AI startup MetaMind, data intelligence startup Implisit Insights and data analytics startup Coolan.
‘An insights-rich customer platform’
Salesforce now has a variety of high-end tools to acquire, analyze, segment and visually present data from many sources, the key need facing marketers and advertisers in this age of too much data.
VP and Principal Analyst Liz Herbert said in a video posted online that the Tableau acquisition lines up with Salesforce’s vision to become “an insights-rich customer platform.”
It can be a boon for current Salesforce customers who don’t use Tableau, she said, since it now will become more integrated with that platform. But the purchase also offers an integration challenge for Salesforce, given that Einstein and some of its previous data analytics acquisitions offer some of the same analytical functions.
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