Acquisitions for Big Data Startups are Hot. What’s Driving the Money?

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Google made waves in early June when it announced it was acquiring Looker, a piping hot analytics startup that helps companies make sense of the data they generate and collect, for a cool $2.6 billion. Days later, Salesforce acquired Tableau for $15.7 billion — so that it, too, could offer customers tools that would enable them to manage and understand their data. 

While those two acquisitions have probably gotten the most press, we’ve seen other recent notable acquisitions of big data companies, specifically within data integration:

  • In another move earlier this year, Google announced its intention to acquire Alooma, a company that helps users migrate to the cloud and clean their data.
  • In May, Qlik®, a leader in data analytics completed its acquisition of Attunity, a leading provider of data integration and big data management software solutions.
  • Late last year, Stitch, an analytics firm acquired Talend, a cloud data integration solution provider that targets startups with its freemium model, for $60 million.
  • In May, Sisense, a business analytics software provider, merged with Periscope Data, a data visualization platform, with the goal of offering customers “a unified, end-to-end data science and business intelligence platform.”

All this activity bodes well for companies like Sigma Computing, a BI tool who shares investors with Snowflake, and other leading big data and business intelligence companies, such as Fivetran, a rapidly-growing automated data pipeline provider. Investors and big tech companies are taking note, and now more than ever, open to making acquisitions to meet customer needs. After all, if tech giants are dumping billions of dollars into the big data firms, the need must be real — and urgent. 

The Reasons Behind the Acquisition Activity

Those decisions — and large investments — were no doubt driven, at least in part, by the need to compete with Azure, Microsoft’s cloud service that provides advanced analytics capabilities. However, more so, tech giants and those tech companies who haven’t quite yet reached “giant” status realize that businesses today are facing a huge challenge. 

Increasingly, companies — even small companies — are becoming data driven. They’re conducting more business online and adopting Internet of Things (IoT) devices, software and applications to improve the quality of their products and meet the growing demands of customers. A massive amount of data is coming in, literally from everywhere.

The insight that data could provide them could guide their business decisions, benefiting every facet of the business, from producing products on the factory floor to marketing them. The problem is, businesses struggle to break the data down and extract those insights so they can act on them. 

A Look Ahead

One thing is certain, in order to operate more efficiently, improve quality, bolster profits and compete, companies will need to harness all the data they’re acquiring and use it to make better business decisions.

As a result, we can expect to see more acquisitions like these as industry leaders and niche providers acquire business intelligence and data integration firms to offer customers a more complete solution, create a seamless customer experience, and provide a simpler way to visualize and understand their data.

About the Author

Ben Bloch is CEO of Bloch Strategy. He is a Los Angeles-based serial entrepreneur and journalist, and advises high growth startups. Ben spent 14 years in corporate roles with IBM and Sungard AS focused on emerging business opportunities, software as a service, cloud computing and digital media, and another 8 in the startup world during which he acted as CMO and CRO during three exits, including co-founding grant and private equity-funded clean-tech company Econation. He completed the Business Insight Program at Harvard University and graduated undergrad from UW-Madison. 

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