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Jun 18, 2019

Jesse Halpert from our Sales org and Taylor "The Creator" Gibb from Success join me to discuss the recent acquisitions of data visualizations tools Looker (by Google) and Tableau (by Salesforce). How do these products stack up? What does this mean for the martech landscape? Listen in to learn more!






PJ: Hello again. Welcome back to Braze for Impact, your MarTech industry discuss digest. And this week I am accompanied by two very special guests returning for her third or fourth I think from our success org, Taylor Gibb, welcome.



Taylor Gibb: Well thank you so much. Happy to be here. I didn't know if you guys knew its National Eat Your Vegetables Day.



PJ: Oh really?



Taylor Gibb: So I just assumed I was going to be talking vegetables. Is that not the case today?



PJ: I think there's always room to fit vegetables-



Taylor Gibb: Okay.



PJ: Into the talk track-



Taylor Gibb: All right.



PJ: And I think you're good at finding creative ways to segue. So...



Jesse Halpert: Solid plug.



PJ: Absolutely. To my left, I have a very good friend Jesse Halpert from our sales org. He's joining us today. Jesse, how are you?



Jesse Halpert: I'm doing great BJ. Thanks for having me, first time in a long time.



PJ: Yeah, first, I mean I literally came to him this morning and was like, hey would you be willing to jump in here? And the reason I did that is because today's podcast is all about two companies that got acquired recently, both data visualization companies, Tableau getting acquired by Salesforce, and then also Looker getting acquired by Google. Jesse Halpert previously worked at Tableau. Isn't that right Jesse?



Jesse Halpert: Sure is.



PJ: So Jesse's going to be here to be able to give us the inside scoop. Tell us a little bit more about, you know, how they frame the selling of Tableau and maybe how it stacks up against Looker. But yeah, pretty pumped for this one. Me and Taylor had to do a lot of research on data analytics for this.



Taylor Gibb: Oh yeah. Boned up big time on my understanding of Tableau as well as Looker, which we use here at Braze. Shameless plug there and I'm a big evangelist for Looker across my clients, but obviously want to hear more about Tableau as well. Both are great tools, much like eating your vegetables. It's certainly not as much fun but very good for your organization to have a great data visualization tool. So always love to learn a little more about that.



Jesse Halpert: Were you paid off by the vegetable lobby prior to this podcast?



Taylor Gibb: I actually was under the table. Sesame Street is paying me big time.



PJ: We're two minutes in and you already had a vegetable comment, so pacing well for the day.



Taylor Gibb: Brace yourself.



PJ: All right, cool. Let's jump into this first article. Salesforce buying data visualization company Tableau for 15.7 billion dollars on the heels of Google buying analytics startup Looker last week for 2.6 billion. Salesforce announced a big piece of news in a bid to step up its own work in data visualization, and more generally tools to help enterprises make sense of the sea of data that they use and amass. And also, I hear now that they're going to be taking over Tableau's HQ in Seattle as well.



Jesse Halpert: HQ2!



PJ: HQ2, which a I guess has been kind of coined by Amazon when they were doing their search in New York for their HQ2. Yeah, I mean it's pretty cool. I mean, I guess the idea is the West Coast is really getting beefed up for tech and we kind of like have New York as this lone capitol of the tech world on the East Coast. Yeah. I'm interested to hear a little bit more. Jesse, when were you there at Tableau?



Jesse Halpert: I was there for nearly two years and I finished up in March prior to Braze. But you know, worked primarily as an account executive and account manager there.



Taylor Gibb: Jesse, would you have been swept up in all of this Tableau, you know, purchase excitement had you been there or are you getting a little FOMO right now?



Jesse Halpert: Definitely a little bit of FOMO when I read it and definitely wish I had held onto more of my shares. But yeah, it's you know, incredibly exciting for, you know, people that have been there for awhile.



PJ: But Tableau, it has a more of a beefed up product suite than Looker. Is that, is that right?



Jesse Halpert: Yeah, I'd say beefed up in a sense. I think what was always a big value prop that I would communicate at Tableau was the ease of use and you know, like intuitiveness that it would take to really use the product because they have a patented drag and drop technology that makes it really easy to take the different, you know, attributes or events that you want to measure and you know, put it right into a canvas to view.



Taylor Gibb: Wow. Oh, that's interesting. That sounds a little bit familiar here at Drew's events canvas. [crosstalk] You just slid right into our lingo. And I'd also be interested to hear a little more about that just because Looker, I think touts itself perhaps even more so as being an accessible kind of platform. And I know at least some of my friends who work with Tableau and their suite, it's oftentimes kind of a point of pride to be able to navigate. So, you know, I'm very good at Sequel. I can use Tableau very well, is something that you see pretty frequently on Linkedin, on a resume as a skillset.



Jesse Halpert: It's like a cert almost.



Taylor Gibb: You can take classes for it. Yeah. Oh 100% whereas I feel like, I mean I'm going to be shooting myself in the foot here a little talking about how little I know, but Looker I think is intuitive for someone like me to be able to pick up on and to use pretty effectively and I know that our data BI team right now is face-palming because they think of how many questions I asked them on a daily basis. But still, did you find though that when you were at working with accounts, when you're selling into these accounts that there was a general consensus that this was the easiest way to be able to query and use your data?



Jesse Halpert: If you're in any of those organizations, I think you get exposed most to your product and you get comfortable and familiar, so I think it's easy to say. I haven't used Looker enough frankly, to really give that impartial of an opinion on that.



PJ: Fair.



Taylor Gibb: Yeah, a very-



PJ: You don't want half-informations here. It's like eating half of your Brussels sprouts.



Taylor Gibb: No, not something that we do here at Braze.



Jesse Halpert: Yeah, we go full sprout.



Taylor Gibb: Full sprouts 2019.



Jesse Halpert: I mean another aspect to this is, you know them moving into Seattle and the West Coast, obviously something that I hadn't really thought much about before until the whole Amazon thing is like, you know with that comes certain tax breaks and with that comes the expectation of giving back to the community in some way.



Taylor Gibb: That's interesting.



Jesse Halpert: And so, I mean traditionally Tableau and Salesforce, they're pretty philanthropic. They're kind of like all about giving back to the areas that they have offices. So I'm actually interested to see how that unfolds in the coming months and if there'll be any big initiatives. Mr. Benioff I'm sure has some big plans for Seattle.



Taylor Gibb: I'm sure, whether Seattle wants it or not, maybe. One thing I was going to say, but maybe it's a segue for another time here is I'm interested just in the fact that salesforce already had an in-house BI tool and SBI suite that they were using that they were all about, right? This was what they built their data systems on and as a company that typically does buy and, something we've said before, "Frankenstein" in software, interesting to make this move for a completely outside data tool when they've already got this built in house. So one thing I'm curious about, other than whatever Seattle kind of grabbed that they're making there, do you suppose that this is coming mostly as table stakes for Google having purchased Looker?



Jesse Halpert: Yeah, I think a lot of it, they probably had plenty of time to self reflect and see that either the tool wasn't beefed up to the point that they needed it to be, that they weren't seeing themselves in a lot of competitive situations, or probably a combo of both. And I think a lot of that might be similar for what Google went through too. I think they both had, you know, some sort of, I don't want to say half baked, I don't think that's a good way to put it, but probably not like to the full power of something like a Tableau or a Looker or even, you know, Microsoft has Power BI, which they're able to sort of throw in a with their Microsoft suite. And I think by way of Google purchasing Looker by way of a Salesforce purchasing Tableau, it probably will make it a bit more of an arms race between those three, you know all having something that's a little bit more powerful to sell to their clients.



PJ: Yeah, good point. And you know what we're going to do is we'll get into kind of the details of each one and obviously we're not here to rip on any products, but well more just kind of like highlight the benefits of each. But before we get down and dirty with that, Taylor, you want to take us into the Looker situation?



Taylor Gibb: Just in terms of the purchase of Looker? How Looker works? Our use of looker? I mean, I'm ready to speak to all of it from a very-



PJ: You gotta be more specific.



Taylor Gibb: Come on, man. You coming at me with Looker. Alright. Again, BI Team, I apologize, I may butcher it. But I want to first of all frame this as coming from someone who uses Looker who benefits greatly from Looker and our team using it. And my use, as you know, I'm a Success Manager is primarily being able to share with our clients the results that they're getting from campaigns that they send out. So it's so easy to be able to use things like Look ML, which is kind of the Looker language, to share things that others have built to be able to visualize. So Google to acquire analytics startup Looker for 2.6 billion... Basically Thomas Kurian, who's the man who was handed the reigns to Google Cloud at the end of last year, sees the two companies bringing together a complete data analytics solution for customers. So it's end-to-end analytics platform to connect, collect, analyze, and visualize data across Google Cloud as your AWS on-premises databases. So one thing that I took away from this, from this quote that they've decided to pin their PR on is that they're looking to make this a connective kind of grab, right? So they've got Looker now and they're doing so because it's a tool that allows you to connect all sorts of different data. I think that's important when you're thinking Google Cloud, because so often the pain points with a big juggernaut like Salesforce are that you're having to go through crazy hoops and loops to be able to get all of your products to mesh together seamlessly. Google is saying, don't even worry about that pain point. We've picked Looker specifically because it makes it easy to connect to what they need. And so I think that that's something that really stands out. Google was also the first in this... You know, arms race was a good way to put it, earlier. They were the first to make this acquisition. I think that it really frames them as being a forward thinking organization and it'll be interesting to see kind of what comes of this in terms of the Google suite, in terms of what we as consumers are able to glean from Looker, but also what they do with their data internally.



PJ: I'm interested to see how that will affect Looker's company in general. Kind of like their, you know, product roadmap, their priorities and stuff. Like I'm sure Google have big plans for them.



Taylor Gibb: Big time.



Jesse Halpert: Yeah, I think that's a big piece of it too, the data consolidation. I think it'll just make it really, really easy for any company regardless of the size to just be able to take all of their data and put it into a visual analytics platform, which was probably a little bit more of a difficult process, you know, prior to these purchases I think. So I think at the end of the day it's gonna benefit the end user and the companies that are, you know you're a Google house or Salesforce type of house.



Taylor Gibb: Totally. And I love that all of this is about the demystification of data to your average user. They're saying that they want everybody from their actual BI analytics team to people like myself, a Success Manager who may not be as in the weeds with data, to be able to glean the important information from the data that's being pulled in. Because so often you see with these older legacy, some of my clients working with a ton of super valuable data but like unable to do anything with it because it's hidden in all these folders that only certain people know how to access and use and pivot on. So definitely a good thing for the end user, if anything.



PJ: Well the end user is the real winner today, I think. All right, now the Looker versus Tableau smack down, all this information has been helpfully provided to us by SelectHub. Thank you, SelectHub. And so now we're just going to go over some of these different facets of the product to give you their perspective on which company has the advantage. So data visualization, you know, data is presented visually for easy interpretation. The winner there, Tableau over looker. I'm sorry, Looker, and I thought that was actually Looker's big.



Taylor Gibb: That's what I thought too going into this. But again, we could see that in the Google acquisition, that wasn't necessarily what they pinned everything on, but I'm with you. I thought that Looker, I mean it's about looking at things. So you would think visualizations.



PJ: Well you know what they do have the edge on, though? Analytics. Information is quantified and evaluated for a portrait of company trends and future possibilities.



Taylor Gibb: Future possibilities.



PJ: Point to Looker. Very nice. This next one, online analytical processing. This is OLAP.



Taylor Gibb: Shout out to OLAP.



PJ: Shout out to OLAP.



Jesse Halpert: People don't talk enough about OLAP.



Taylor Gibb: Maybe you should talk more about it Jesse.



Jesse Halpert: I'm good.



PJ: OLAP functionalities provide access to databases and web based analysis, and so this goes to Tableau.



Taylor Gibb: Not only does it go to Tableau, but apparently Looker, at least at the time of this publication, had no means of OLAP-ing.



Jesse Halpert: It's daunting.



PJ: Yeah, that's a big, big... But it's also, you mentioned that it's kind of an old school...



Jesse Halpert: Yeah, it's probably more of like a box checking thing.



PJ: Yeah. Gotcha. And then next up, document management. Convert reports into different file formats and share analytical findings, both very strong there, which is nice.



Taylor Gibb: And this is something that we do with our clients fairly frequently. Again, democratizing data across both processes and companies. So the ability to send a PDF of a certain chart that we've created to an end user, a marketer who just wants to have something on their boss's desk to say numbers are up, it's huge to be able to just press a button and do that export. Cause I know so many other times I would even have to go into something like Keynote and create a separate chart. So not sure what tableau has to offer there, but I can say it's a simple but super effective tool for again, someone like me who's an end user but not necessarily savvy enough to be doing a lot of this stuff my own.



PJ: Yeah. And that's a big pattern we see right, with democratizing these tools and making it easy for a marketer to really get their hands dirty into data. And so looking forward to seeing how Tableau continues to push the envelope on that. I think Looker is already on a great path for it.



Jesse Halpert: Yeah. I think one thing you'll see in each is that it's really easy for somebody who's a power user to, you know, again like you said, democratize the data and share it with people who are end users and don't have that type of analytical savvy and just make it really easy to serve up like one off visualizations and reports that they might receive regularly.



PJ: Just like some veggies.



Taylor Gibb: Just like veggies, you knew it! PJ just gave me this look like don't you dare mention vegetables again.



PJ: Serving it up hot. Next, decision services. So financial management features provide analysis of monetary information. Both also very strong in this area. Integrations, the ability to connect with other systems provides multiple sources and functionalities.



Taylor Gibb: Big win fir my buddy Looker and remember, that's what they were saying at Google. That's why they purchased this solution in the first place, which is really huge in terms of like market value for Google in general, that they're thinking about things like this. Because Salesforce does everything and they do it pretty well, but when you're trying to get data from one point to another? It's difficult.



PJ: It's all about making that a fluid process and like, and that kind of lends itself as well to like future-proofing, right? Because you know, we talk a lot about being channel agnostic. If you have that kind of flexibility, I think you're, you're opening yourself to the future and you're giving yourself the ability to be agile, whatever channel should show itself.



Taylor Gibb: Absolutely. It's that- [crosstalk 00:15:55].



Jesse Halpert: So motivational.



Taylor Gibb: At this motivational podcast, listen to it before you go to sleep and you will be successful. But it's like that Woody Allen quote, right? That's like "relationship is a shark; if it's not moving forward, it's dying." This is another thing, right? Google is like, we got to keep buying more stuff like, and Salesforce of course has to follow suit, but maybe more thoughtful on-



PJ: I have been called the Woody Allen of Big Data, so.



Taylor Gibb: I knew it.



Jesse Halpert: I don't know if that's something you really want to hang your hat.



PJ: Yeah, you're right, you're right.



Taylor Gibb: Gonna take that out in editing, you think?



PJ: Hey, Midnight in Paris, shout out to y'all. It was good! Owen Wilson!



Jesse Halpert: Wow.



Taylor Gibb: Wow.



PJ: Wooooow. Last one, Big Data integration. Access to Big Data programs for comprehensive analysis. And this ad goes to Tableau. So thanks again SelectHub for facilitating the Looker v. Tableau smack down. It sounds like a WWF event. [inaudible] Oh, it literally is. That's right.



Taylor Gibb: Speaking of vegetables, PJ, I got one more hot take to kind of take us out here. So we've been speaking in a very high level, obviously, again kind of a layman's view of these very powerful data tools and these very powerful companies, right? Salesforce and Google. We've been talking about these bigger companies and the ways that they're going to be using, the ways that this gives a competitive advantage. There's also a take to be made here that a few pundits are talking about and that this feels almost like an act of desperation, right? Because this is a hot sector right now. Data visualization, data in general as it becomes more and more accessible for people like us, it really sets your company apart as being future proof, something that you said earlier "a forward thinking company." Could it be that this grab wasn't so much, you know, thinking about the best ways to be using tools like this, but was perhaps an act of desperation, a grab for table stakes here?



Jesse Halpert: I don't even know if it's a hot take.



PJ: Yeah, I think it's a lukewarm take.



Jesse Halpert: Its a lukewarm take. Yeah, I think they were just able to see that their products weren't as strong in this market and this is a market that applies to every line of the business. Not only is it future proofing companies, but it's something that, again like we talked about earlier, democratizes the data across an organization. And they were losing ground and they were able to acquire two really forward looking products and were able to bolster their line a little bit in a place where they were probably hurting.



PJ: Yeah, I think we can call it like casual desperation if that is a thing and makes sense, you know? Because they're at the top of their game, right? It's like, like let's look at the cautionary tale of Blockbuster. If you're not like looking ahead to like either your business and how it will evolve or potentially other businesses that you can loop into your revenue streams, then you know you're really not thinking about the future health of your business.



Taylor Gibb: You're gonna get Blockbuster-ed.



PJ: Don't get Blockbuster-ed, y'all. Come on, now.



Taylor Gibb: Look into OLAP, don't get Blockbuster-ed



PJ: Exactly. Good for them acquiring Looker. I think Looker has a bright future, but I wonder what they stand to lose by trying to assimilate Looker into their product suite. Because looker is so good right now at what they do, when you try to, we said it on a previous podcast, you mentioned it again, Frankenstein-ing products-



Taylor Gibb: I'm gonna trademark that.



PJ: We need to, because you know, Salesforce is just creating the Frankenstein of all these products and as long as you can do it in like an agile way and really mold them together in a way where they speak well and it's architecturally enabling, as long as you can create it in that way, I'm all about it. But if you're just purchasing to stay relevant and slap-sticking it together, you know, Looker's got a lot of fanfare as far as our industry goes right now. If you're just doing it for that and you haven't thought about the execution, maybe rethink that bad boy.



Taylor Gibb: Oh yeah. At the cost of several billion, I mean worth a second look.



PJ: I think that was a steal, 2.6 billion. Like I think Looker is going to be, I mean it generates a ton of money.



Jesse Halpert: I do think the integration will be fairly seamless for companies that already do have Google cloud.



PJ: Yeah, good for them. So you companies that have Google cloud, you are in luck.



Taylor Gibb: Oh very good point. And actually I really liked that as well.



Jesse Halpert: And I think that's what both organizations are ultimately looking to do. Kind of you know, push this new product on them.



Taylor Gibb: That's exciting news for my clients. You guys out there like using Looker? Good news! I have a feeling there's going to be some announcements on the books here.



PJ: Absolutely. And for those listeners out there that aren't as familiar with the MarTech landscape, do some research. There's all sorts of products from engagement tools to attribution tools and you could say the analytics portion of that is like eating your vegetables. You get to eat your vegetables first and then you get the steak. Getting into visualizations and data and having it inform your strategy, that's just how you move forward. That's how you improve.



Jesse Halpert: What's the baked potato in this analogy?



Taylor Gibb: Attribution, I think.



PJ: Yeah. Cause that's like nice. And I mean, I love a baked potato with a little butter on it.



Taylor Gibb: You're telling me. Well, you know, after you've had this potato, this steak, these veggies, you know what these companies got to do, don't you? They gotta get that bread.



PJ: Oh ho-ho!



Jesse Halpert: I thought it was going somewhere else and, yeah.



Taylor Gibb: Yeah.



PJ: On that note, do your research. Look into both of these companies, both doing fantastic things. Eat your veggies, eat your bread, eat your baked potato. And for those of you who don't know, we are Braze. Braze is a customer engagement platform. If you don't know what that is, head to I'd like to thank my guests Jesse and Taylor. Thank you guys so much for being here.



Jesse Halpert: Thanks for having us.



Taylor Gibb: Anytime!



PJ: And you too. Thanks for stopping by guys. Take care.