Market Milestone – Looker Raises $103 million E Round to Expand the Looker Data Platform

On December 6, 2018, Looker announced that it closed a $103 million E round led by Premji Invest, a private equity firm owned by Wipro chairman Azim Premji. This round also includes new funds from Cross Creek Advisors, a venture capital firm focused on late-stage investments with current investments including tech darlings such as Anaplan, Datastax, Docker, DocuSign, Pluralsight, and Sumo Logic. This round also included participation from current investors from prior rounds (such as Looker’s Series D covered by Amalgam Insights).

This round is expected to be a final round before a potential Initial Public Offering. Of course, in recent times, plans for IPO from hot companies have been interrupted at the last moment, such as with Workday’s $1.55 billion acquisition of Adaptive Insights (see Amalgam Insights’ coverage for more information) and SAP’s $8 billion acquisition of Qualtrics. A Looker IPO may not be guaranteed, but Amalgam Insights would expect that the valuation of Looker is likely not going to be affected whether the company ends up going public or being acquired for strategic reasons.

Why is Looker worth $1.6 billion?

With this funding, Looker crosses into “unicorn” territory with a valuation of approximately $1.6 billion. This valuation is based on Looker’s run-rate of over $100 million in annual revenue supported by an employee base that is approaching 600, year-over-year growth exceeding 70%, and expansion into Tokyo to support the Asia-Pacific region.

Amalgam Insights believes that this valuation reflects several key trends and intelligent strategic decisions made by Looker in supporting enterprise-grade business intelligence and data supply chain needs.

First, Looker was developed to support a variety of data preparation, cataloging, governance, querying, and presentation capabilities at scale across a wide variety of data sources and formats. This approach reflects Looker’s purpose of being a data platform built for a new generation of data analysts based on the volume and variety of challenges that drive current analytic challenges.

Taking a step back, I remember when I first ran into Looker on the trade show circuit. I was looking at a variety of BI solutions in 2013, including the likes of Tableau, Qlik, and Microstrategy, when I ran into a small booth manned by a guy named Keenan Rice, who currently serves as Looker’s VP of Strategic Alliances. As a jaded analyst, I asked how his solution was different from the 30+ other solutions that were being shown on that show floor. At the time, everyone was bragging about their pixel-perfect visualizations, report building capabilities, and basic data presentation that were interesting to see, but rarely provided significant value, competitive differentiation, or Return on Investment.

However, Keenan’s pitch differed substantially. Although Looker also provided visualizations for large data tables, Keenan started by talking about data analyst challenges in preparing data for self-service analytics, using Looker’s SQL-based LookML as a modelling layer to access a variety of data, bringing new data into existing data and analytic workflows, and delivering it all as Software-as-a-Service. As a former data analyst, this was all music to my ears, but I wondered if Looker would be able to stand out as a solution against all of the dashboarding solutions, report builders, and the massive marketing budgets of incumbent BI vendors. Looker was just starting as a company and had just announced its Series A, so it faced significant odds in standing out based on the $10 million to $40 million range of Series A or Series B funding that a company like Looker would typically get at this point.

But it has been a pleasure both to seek Looker grow over the years and to lead a new generation of solutions focused on simplifying data supply chains and pipelines. It ends up that Looker was just early enough to avoid having comparable competition while solving a market need that businesses understood, especially those companies seeking a new generation of BI-based capabilities and wanting to develop a more data-driven organization. So, that’s a long way of saying that Looker took a big and laborious bet against the grain six years ago and has been rewarded for having a combination of good product and good timing.

But this isn’t the only reason that Looker has been successful.

As Looker has achieved market fit and success, the solution has evolved from a data workflow solution into an emerging application development solution that allows analysts and developers to work collaboratively in building secure and embeddable data models. By truly building Looker as a platform rather than simply calling it a platform as an aspirational goal based on a set of APIs, Amalgam Insights expects that Looker will become increasingly valuable for data analysts and the “citizen” developers who seek to increase appropriate access to enterprise data and analytic outputs.

And Looker has now taken an important step forward in providing department-specific apps in the most recent Looker 6 launch. Starting with digital marketing and web analytics, Looker is now taking advantage of its analytics capabilities to provide out-of-the-box support to help enterprises with key challenges rather than forcing clients to build foundational analytics that have been built over and over. Both these apps and Looker’s development focus build on top of Looker’s prior focus on Looker Blocks first launched in 2015, which were a collection of SQL, visualizations, and pre-built analytic models designed to accelerate analytic projects.

So, what is next for Looker? IPO? Global domination? 

All kidding aside, with expansion into AsiaPac to accompany Looker’s existing European offices in London and Dublin and Looker’s current 70% growth rate, it is possible that Looker could increase net-new revenues in 2019 faster than BI stalwarts such as Information Builders and Qlik. From a financial perspective, Amalgam Insights notes that Looker’s growth mirrors that of Alteryx, which has roughly quadrupled its stock price since its March 2017 IPO which was based on Alteryx’ 2016 revenue of roughly $86 million with 59% year-over-year growth.

Looker has stated that it believes that this Series E round should be its last funding round before IPO and, given recent market valuations for successful software companies, there should be no reason to expect otherwise from Looker. Looker’s progress both as a software development platform as well as a platform of pre-built applications and services bodes well for Looker as it continues to evolve as an enterprise platform focused on expanding access to data insights.

Finally, Amalgam Insights believes that Looker’s success will lead to continued success with other data and analytics companies focusing on rapid data modelling, data mapping, and analysis of multiple data sources. Looker’s agile BI approach that avoids the challenges of traditional BI and ETL solutions in supporting multiple data sources has become a new standard for accelerating the value of data. This both means that traditional BI companies will need to accelerate their own data pipeline efforts or to partner with other vendors and that Looker will start to be targeted in the same way that the likes of Tableau, Qlik, and Microstrategy have in the past. The price of success is increased competition and innovation, which is good news for the BI, data, and analytics markets and should provide Looker with enough challenges to avoid resting on its laurels.

Hyoun Park Interviewed on Onalytica

Today, Onalytica, a leader in influencer marketing, published an interview on Hyoun Park as a key influencer in the Business Intelligence and Analytics markets. In this interview, Hyoun provides guidance on:

  • How he became an expert in the Analytics and BI space based on over 20 years of experience
  • The 4 Key Tipping Points for BI that Hyoun is excited about
  • Hyoun’s favorite BI influencers, including Jen Underwood, Doug Henschen, John Myers, Claudia Imhoff, and Howard Dresner
  • And then the 4 trends that will drive the BI industry over the next 12 months.

To read the interview and see what inspires this influencer, read the interview on the Onalytica website.

Alter(yx)ing Everything at Inspire 2018

In early June, Amalgam Insights attended Alteryx Inspire ‘18, where Alteryx Chairman and CEO Dean Stoecker led an energetic keynote to inspire their users to “Alter(yx) Everything.” Based on conversations I had with Alteryx executives, partners, and end-users, I came away with the strong impression that Alteryx wants to make advanced analytics and data science tasks as easy and quick as possible for a broad audience that may not know code – and they want to expand that community and its capabilities as quickly as possible. Data scientists and analytics-knowledgeable employees are in high demand, and the shortage is projected to worsen as the demand for these capabilities grows; data is growing faster than the existing data analyst and data scientist community can keep up with it.

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EPM at a Crossroads Part 1: Why Is EPM So Confusing?

This blog is the first of a multi-blog series explaining the challenges of Enterprise Performance Management aka Financial Performance Management, Business Performance Management, Corporate Performance Management, Financial Planning and Analysis, and Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting. Frankly, this list of names alone really helps explain a lot of the confusion. But one of the strangest aspects…

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Michael Saylor Focuses on the Platform at MicroStrategy World 2017

Selective Focus
Selective Focus
Selective Focus

tl;dr: in the world of 2017 where these practical BI issues still reign supreme, a practical Michael Saylor has shown up to preach on MicroStrategy’s capabilities. Both the stock market and MicroStrategy competitors should take notice.

On April 19th, MicroStrategy World 2017 had its executive keynote session in DC. I’ve attended MicroStrategy (NASDAQ:MSTR) World in the past as an industry analyst and was interested in seeing how the keynote would come across from afar as an Amalgam Insights (AI) Principal Investigator.

The keynote started with an introduction by CMO Mark Gambill and an interesting demonstration of MicroStrategy Usher being used to track attendee movement across the exhibition hall.

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Data is the Language of Business: Looker raises an $81M Series D

From Amalgam Insights
From Pixabay
From Pixabay

Accounting has often been called the language of business and it is invaluable in managing the day-to-day financial costs, inputs, outputs, and outcomes associated with business activity. However, as companies start to understand the impact that non-financial drivers ranging from manufacturing outputs to headcount to service transactions to asset utilization rates affect the health of the business, executives have had to broaden the scope of considerations needed to track the health of the company.

As they have done so, businesses have had to shift even their financial departments to focus not just on dollars and cents, but to production units, employees, transactions, uptime, turnover, and loyalty. In doing so, the language of business has started to shift from accounting to a new paradigm of data.

Today, data is the language of business.

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