by John Brandon

Traction Watch: Looker aims to get that data out of the silos

Aug 27, 2015

Growth happens when you create opportunities for other companies and Santa Clara-based business intelligence and data discovery service, Looker, is doing just that, by giving organizations insight into their data. Their service allows workers to access, analyze, and act on data that is often siloed in a company.

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By opening the floodgates, Looker has fueled new growth to the tune of a 5 times increase in revenue over the past 12 months, adding over 100 enterprise customers such as Autodesk, Birchbox, and Harvard Business Review in Q2, and doubling data usage every three months.

Launched in 2013, Looker has tapped into the $18B data intelligence market. And they did it by differentiating from the other big players, from SAS to Oracle. Frank Bien, the CEO at Looker, told about one major strategy decision. About 30 percent of their 140 employees are not data scientists at all, or engineers who work on the infrastructure; instead, they are young business economists who help customers link data discovery to decision-making. “So much of data has become overly focused on data science and predictive analytics — but core business questions go left unanswered. Our team of analysts help customers understand how they can answer those questions for themselves,” he says.

Another key is that the data mining tends to be more granular. Bien gave one example of how different groups in a company might define what an “active user” is (maybe marketing has a different definition than finance) but Looker uses the same calculations for each group.

“Looker makes both the business team and the data team happy by giving the data team the tools to curate and deliver to the business teams a self-serve data exploration experience for everyone in the organization. Everyone is looking at the same data, the same definitions, and sharing the same metrics that the company has agreed to,” Bien says.

A few other interesting differentiators: Looker, as the name implies, doesn’t move any data out of a database so it can be analyzed faster and using a subset of information. It analyzes the data within the repositories, so it tends to be more robust. The usage has doubled so quickly because of how customers can directly access the Looker support team and economists.

Looker Customer List

So far, Looker has attracted some big names and is filling up their Customer Roster. Uber, Etsy, Instacart, and Sony Gaming are using it. So are Yahoo!, Warby Parker, and Gilt. At Avant, the well-known personal loan vendor, 100 percent of their employees now use Looker, says Bien. At this rate, it might take a data scientist to figure out how many companies are using it, how they are getting value, and how they are all analyzing the same set of original data.

Editor’s note: Traction Watch is a new column focused obsessively on growth, and is a companion to the DEMO Traction conference series, which brings together high-growth startups with high-potential customers. The next DEMO Traction will take place in Boston on September 16, 2015. Growth companies can apply to present, or those similarly obsessed can register here to attend.