• General
  • October 12, 2019
  • 6 minutes read

DOJ Said To Be Digging Deeper Into Google’s Looker Acquisition

Looker CEO Frank Bien image: Looker According to a Bloomberg report, antitrust officials at the U.S. Department of Justice have…

Looker CEO Frank Bien

image: Looker

According to a Bloomberg report, antitrust officials at the U.S. Department of Justice have kicked off an in-depth review of Google’s proposed $2.6 billion acquisition of Looker, a Santa Cruz-based data analytics startup. Bloomberg reports DOJ antitrust officials are seeking more information from both companies to determine if the acquisition harms competition. Antitrust officials traditionally review acquisitions of such caliber so there just might be no cause for alarm. However, the DOJ seeking additional information plausibly signals increased scrutiny of tech giants, which have been the focus of recent antitrust-related investigations.

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In July, the DOJ announced that its antitrust unit was “reviewing whether and how market-leading online platforms have achieved market power and are engaging in practices that have reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers.” It said its review will consider “the widespread concerns that consumers, businesses, and entrepreneurs have expressed about search, social media, and some retail services online.” Although the DOJ didn’t specifically pinpoint any of the tech giants in that statement, it only takes a simple deduction to determine the investigation concerned well-known and large tech companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon.

Google’s Looker acquisition was actually for its cloud division, a division it’s setting eyes on for future growth. In July, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said its cloud division had topped $8 billion in annual revenue, a stat that’s quite impressive, although it pales in comparison to that of two other tech giants; Amazon and Microsoft. To compare, Amazon’s cloud unit, AWS, reported $25.7 billion in 2018 revenue while Microsoft’s cloud division brought in more than $23 billion in the same year.

Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian

image: Google

Looker’s data analytics product enables its customers to analyze and fetch insights from data stored in the cloud. Its service competes with similar offerings from Microsoft and Amazon. When Google announced its planned acquisition of Looker, its cloud chief Thomas Kurian said the company would continue to let Looker customers make use of other cloud providers, a probable area of concern to antitrust regulators.

Google’s Looker acquisition reminisced of previous periods that witnessed it spend billions on several companies, take a few examples; Motorola (acquired for $12.5 billion), Nest ($3.2 billion), DoubleClick ($3.1 billion), Waze ($966 million) and YouTube ($1.65 billion). Before Looker, Google’s recent acquisitions were mostly of smaller startups that it absorbed into its cloud division.

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