Looker Snags $16M Venture Funding to Advance BI Innovation

Looker Data Sciences announced a $16 million round of financing to advance its business intelligence platform.

Looker Data Sciences, a business intelligence (BI) software provider, announced a $16 million Series A round of investment capital to advance the company's BI strategy.

Looker raised the $16 million in venture funding in a round led by Redpoint Ventures, with contributions from First Round Capital and previous seed-round investors.

The company, which launched its Looker BI Platform in March 2013, has grown rapidly in the past five months. The company has since doubled its customer base to more than 40 data-driven customers, and has seen its prospect opportunity pipeline grow to well more than 300 percent.

Looker enables businesses to engage with data interactively and allows high-resolution drill-down on their data, leading to high levels of engagement. On average, a Looker customer spends more than 250 hours a month using Looker to engage with data—and typically with terabyte-scale datasets.

"We're business intelligence for the under-40 crowd, and the response to our product really shows that we’ve found a substantially underserved market that was ripe for innovation.” said Frank Bien, CEO of Looker, in a statement. "No one has attacked the core of BI in the last 10 years. We tore it down and rebuilt it from the ground up, wrote our own language, architected a Web-based infrastructure and delivered a product that's incredibly powerful. The Looker platform provides a modern leverage point for data analysts to service their business user populations effectively and efficiently."

In an interview, Bien told eWEEK that Looker brings BI into the modern era with an agile, browser-based analytics platform for exploring and collaborating with data of any size.

"Early on we saw a push to get all this data and store it, but the tools never emerged to extract the relevant data out," Bien said. "Nobody came up with an agile Web way of being able to pull value out. Tools have to be built from the ground up to work directly in the database. It's a big mess out there, and I think that why we're seeing such fast customer adoption. The response to our product really shows that we've found a substantially underserved market that was ripe for innovation."

Indeed, instead of "dumbing down" BI, Looker makes the most of the smartest data people in an organization. In fact, it's a bit like putting a data analyst inside everyone's browser. With Looker, an organization's data team can enable direct exploration of the data, negotiated by a modern modeling language that is easy for them to learn.

Looker's in-database approach was built from the ground up to enable big data processing. Looker also leverages dialect-specific SQL and analytic functions within backend databases, enabling the serious heavy lifting required to realize new insights across any data sets in an enterprise.

As straightforward to use as the Web itself, Looker enables a new data experience that introduces anyone within an organization to a curiosity-driven approach through analytic applications. The Looker platform is powered by a comprehensive data modeling layer, LookML. Using Looker and LookML, organizations can leverage the work of their analysts and maximize their data management investments by distributing Looker across all functions of the business.

With LookML, Looker reinvents the idea of SQL reusability, Bien said. LookML provides quick access to lightweight code, increasing efficiencies in much the same way that HTML simplified the creation of Websites, Looker officials said.

"The next wave of innovation in big data is the democratization of data exploration, enabling every employee in an enterprise to ask and answer their own questions easily, without having to ask the for help of the data team,” said Tomasz Tunguz, principal at Redpoint Ventures, in a statement. “Looker's product is exceptionally well-suited to catalyze that wave."

Since its launch, the company has hired key executives and laid the groundwork for continued expansion. The company will use the funds to build out its sales team, hire additional engineering talent and invest in operational infrastructure, Bien said.

Expansion has begun with a new vice president of sales, Lambert Billet, who joins Looker from Endeca—which was acquired by Oracle in 2011—with previous sales leadership positions at Hewlett-Packard, Vignette, Sun Microsystems and others. Lambert will expand the sales team and national presence to deliver Looker's BI platform to the many organizations seeking to capitalize on the next generation of data discovery.