Google challenges cloud rivals with $2.6bn data deal

Google’s cloud division has announced plans to buy big data analytics firm Looker for $2.6 billion in cash, as the search giant steps up efforts to rival Amazon and Microsoft’s cloud offerings.

The deal will enable the company to expand its specialised software offering, and is the first major acquisition for Thomas Kurian, who took up the role of Google Cloud chief executive in November.

US-based firm Looker, was founded in 2012 and valued at $1.6 billion in a funding round last year. In an interview with Reuters, Kurian said that acquiring Looker’s analytics capabilities would drive growth in BigQuery, Google’s data management tool.

Looker and Google Cloud share around 350 customers, including Blue Apron and Hearst Communications.

The move has been widely seen as latest salvo in Google’s efforts to catch up with Amazon and Microsoft, which currently top the table for revenue from infrastructure and computing rentals to business customers.

It is the most significant investment Google has made since it bought smart home technology company Nest Labs for $3.2 billion in 2014.

Looker’s cloud-based software enables companies to visualise trends in their data.

In a statement Kurian said:"Google Cloud is being used by many of the leading organizations in the world for analytics and decision-making.

"The combination of Google Cloud and Looker will enable customers to harness data in new ways to drive their digital transformation.

He added: “We remain committed to our multi-cloud strategy and will retain and expand Looker’s capabilities to analyze data across Clouds.”

"The combination of Looker and Google Cloud advances our mission that we undertook from the beginning — to empower humans through the smarter use of data,” said Frank Bien, chief executive of Looker.

“Now, we’ll have greater reach, more resources, and the brightest minds in both analytics and cloud Infrastructure working together to build an exciting path forward for our customers and partners. Together, we are reinventing what it means to solve business problems with data at an entirely different scale and value point.”

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