Business Software Startup Looker Locks in a Big Investment

January 14, 2016, 12:30 PM UTC

Over the past year, business intelligence software startup Looker has tripled the number of companies on its customer list to 450 by adding high-profile organizations like marketplace company eBay (EBAY), semiconductor giant Intel (INTC) and plumbing fixtures manufacturer Kohler.

That momentum prompted Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to lead a $48 million funding round in Looker that was disclosed on Thursday. The company declined to discuss its valuation.

“Some of the most data-driven companies are using Looker, not just once per week but on a daily basis to run the business,” said KPCB partner Alex Kurland. “The references were some of the most positive by far” that we’ve seen for a software company.

The new round also included participation from previous investors Redpoint Ventures, Meritech, and Sapphire Ventures. So far, the Santa Cruz, Calif.-based technology company has raised $96 million since it was founded in 2013.

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Looker’s software gathers data from multiple systems like different marketing software applications, and consolidates it so that it can be used to search for trends and insights using natural language terms.

“Everybody uses a different language to explain the same thing. … This helps teams talk in the same vocabulary,” said Looker CEO Frank Bien, a software industry veteran whose resume includes previous roles in EMC software divisions.

WATCH: How the U.S. government uses data analytics.

The new backing will go toward product development and expanding Looker’s sales team to new regions, Bien said. The company is growing quickly in the United Kingdom, courtesy of its relatively new London office. Looker is planning a similar foray into the Asia Pacific region. Currently, Looker employs around 200 people—roughly double the workforce it had at the start of 2015.

If all goes according to plan, Looker should exit 2016 with a customer list of more than 800 companies, almost double what it has now, Bien said. The broad business intelligence software category is poised to generate $21 billion in total revenue this year, according to Forrester Research. There are plenty of companies telling a similar story to Looker’s. Its challenge will be to differentiate in an increasingly crowded market.

Looker’s founder, Lloyd Tabb was a database expert at pioneering software company Borland International before he left to start a company called Commerce Tools that created on of the first web application servers.


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