Looker was founded in 2012 in Santa Cruz, CA, and has grown quite quickly since then. The vendor already had about 200 employees in 2015 and now employs over 800 people across eight locations. With the opening of the UK office in 2015, Looker started to grow its business in Europe.
An impressive 1800 customers are already using its product. Looker is backed by nine investors with total funding of $280.5 million to date. Google recently agreed to acquire the vendor and Looker will become part of the Google Cloud portfolio when the acquisition closes.
Looker began developing its product in 2012. The vendor pursues a direct approach to analytics as it is convinced that traditional BI approaches restrict the use of analytics within companies. With classical BI, Looker claims that only a limited group of users (i.e., analysts) have access to data and the ability to perform ad hoc analysis. Another disadvantage it sees in current BI platforms is the aggregation and lack of availability of row-level detail. As a result, Looker has designed a product which relies strongly on a central and virtual metadata layer created using LookML, its proprietary data description language (abstraction layer on top of SQL). Business users connect to data via this virtual layer, allowing them to do ad hoc analysis via a point-and-click interface. To underline its core strength and the emphasis on data, the vendor has started to position its product as a data platform.
Looker’s data platform is a web-based product which is particularly strong in embedding scenarios and for creating interactive visualizations and dashboard applications. In addition, the product offers business user-oriented features to query different data sources ad hoc using the LookML metadata layer.
User & Use Cases
Although Looker’s focus is on visualization, it is used in quite a broad range of scenarios. All the customers responding to this year’s survey display data using dashboards, 97 percent use its ad hoc query capabilities and 94 percent create enterprise reports. Interestingly, 55 percent plan to use Looker in budgeting/planning scenarios. The software does not provide budgeting features. However, because customers use Looker for enterprise reporting, they want to access budget figures in order to see a comparison between actual, budget and forecast values to be able to manage their business.
Looker is mostly used in mid-sized companies of 100 to 2500 employees. The software is deployed more widely throughout these companies (36 percent of employees) than its competitors (18 percent on average). A mean number of 183 people per customer use the software, with the median only slightly higher at 187 users. This is way above the median of 50 users for all products in The BI Survey 19. Such a high adoption rate indicates that customers might also be using Looker in operational scenarios.
Current vs. planned use
5 products most often evaluated in competition with Looker
Percentage of employees using Looker
Number of users using Looker
Tasks carried out with Looker by business users
Company size (number of employees)
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