Qatalyst traded Looker to Microsoft, Amazon before Google agreement

Tony Avelar | Bloomberg | Getty Images

After Google Cloud's chief Thomas Kurian approached the data analysis company Looker for a potential relationship earlier this year, Looker turned to a familiar face in Silicon Valley for advice: Frank Quattrone.

Quattrone's Investment Bank, Qatalyst Partners, traded around for potential bidders and gained interest from companies like Microsoft and Amazon, according to people familiar with the case. Google aggressively pursued Looker, who quickly brought together his $ 2.6 billion offer, the people said, asking not to be named because the negotiations were private.

Kurian, who previously led a 35,000-person team on Oracle, has spoken publicly about quickly hiring corporate dealers to take on cloud leaders, but this is his first signature move since he took over as head of Google's cloud in November. The acquisition of Looker is the third largest in Google's 21[ads1]-year history, behind only Motorola and Nest, and by far the largest for the cloud industry, recently led by VMware founder Diane Greene.

The company's turn to Lookers business information software to understand and visualize large amounts of complex data for everything from marketing to financial planning.

Google paid a hefty multiple to close the deal. According to a report by Canaccord Genuity, Looker will generate between $ 140 million and $ 180 million in revenue this year. At the high end, an over-priced 14-point sales price is comparable to the most expensive software last year, such as SAP's acquisition of Qualtrics and Salesforce's purchase of MuleSoft.

In his last fundraising round in December, Looker had 600 employees and was valued at $ 1.6 billion.

Investors have been waiting for Google to enter the dealmaking game, given the huge advantage Amazon Web Services has built and how much money Microsoft is investing in securing other space. Google had 7.6% of the cloud market at the end of 2018, after AWS 32% and Microsoft at 13.7%, according to Canalys.

"An acquisition was a matter of when, not about," wrote Aaron Kessler, an analyst at Raymond James, in a report after Thursday's announcement. "With Looker out of the way, the question becomes" What happens on the GCP shopping list? ""

Kurian started conversations with Looker in the first months of the year to better understand the technology and how customers use it. These discussions were soon discussed in M&A talks and led Looker to hire Qatalyst to expand market interest, people who are familiar with the case said. There was some serious interest among potential suitors, but nothing offset Google's bid, they said.

Thomas Kurian

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Kurian told CNBC on Thursday that the alphabetical board approved the deal and that it is very much a sign of the company's plan to grow in the business. He said that although Google pays a 63% premium to Looker's valuation from six months ago, he would not have made the deal if he didn't see it as accretive to Google.

Google and Looker were very familiar with each other well before the deal. The companies have 350 common customers, including BuzzFeed, Hearst and WPP Essence, according to a blog post. Google Cloud Platform offers several products that meet Looker's technology, and Google's investment fund, CapitalG, led a $ 81.5 million funding round in the company in 2017.

Google and Quattrone are also a long way back. The company hired Qatalyst in 2008 for advisory work when Microsoft tried to buy Yahoo, and Qatalyst represented Motorola on the sale to Google in 2011. When Quattrone, previously a storied and controversial investment path career on Wall Street, started Qatalyst in 2008, Da Eric's CEO started in Google, the launch called "an important development for the technology industry."

A Google spokesman refused to comment as a Microsoft spokesman. An AWS representative did not respond to a request for comment.

– CNBC's Jordan Novet and Jon Fortt contributed to this report.

Correction: Thomas Kurian is the head of the Google cloud industry. An earlier version of this post failed his title.

WATCH: Google acquires data analysis platform Looker in the $ 2.6 billion agreement

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