Google buys Looker to expand cloud offerings

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Alphabet Inc.’s Google agreed to buy Looker Data Sciences Inc. for $2.6 billion, expanding its offerings to help customers manage data in the cloud.

The acquisition announced Thursday gives Google a new tool in its campaign to sell more cloud storage and software. So far, the company has struggled to compete with larger rivals Inc. and Microsoft Corp. Late last year, Google replaced its head of cloud Diane Greene with longtime Oracle Corp. executive Thomas Kurian.

The deal is Google’s biggest since it acquired smart home company Nest Labs for $3.2 billion in 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Google shares were down less than 1% to $1,037.83 Thursday morning in New York.

Cloud is important for Google because growth is slowing in its core search advertising business. Adding Santa Cruz, California-based Looker to Google cloud will provide customers with a “more comprehensive analytics solution,” Google said in a statement, “from ingesting and integrating data to gain insights, to embedded analytics and visualizations — enabling enterprises to leverage the power of analytics, machine learning and AI.”

The acquisition builds on an existing partnership between the two companies who share more than 350 joint customers, including BuzzFeed, Hearst, King, Sunrun, WPP Essence, and Yahoo!. The acquisition of Looker is expected to be completed later this year, subject to regulatory approval.

Bloomberg News