Santa Cruz Tech Beat


The Brains Behind the Company, Looker, that Google Acquired for $2.6B

By Sequoia Blodgett
Black Enterprise

The man behind the engineering, product management, and design organization is Looker chief product officer, Nick Caldwell

June 18, 2019 — Santa Cruz, CA

(Photo above: Nick Caldwell, Looker CPO. Source: Looker)

Looker, a business intelligence software and big data analytics platform was recently acquired by Google for $2.6 billion, reports CNBC.

The man behind the engineering, product management, and design organization is Looker chief product officer, Nick Caldwell. In an interview with Black Enterprise, Caldwell, who was previously VP of engineering at Reddit, breaks down what he does as a CPO, how he helped develop the product to the point of acquisition, and what he recommends for black people looking to take on product roles of this magnitude.

Black Enterprise: What do you do as Chief Product Officer?

Nick Caldwell: As chief product officer at Looker, I’m responsible for leading the engineering, product management, and design organization. We’re about 150 people and growing incredibly fast. On any given day you’ll find me discussing technical choices with our architects, developing strategy with the product team, and meeting with customers to understand their challenges. It’s all about helping Looker deliver on its mission to empower people with the smarter use of data.

While the product and technology are incredible, the most important part of my job is really people. I find the greatest fulfillment in building an organization where employees can learn, grow, and achieve their full potential. Leaders must create new leaders.

How did you help to develop the product to the point of acquisition?

I believe that modern workers need data to get their jobs done, and they need to access it in a way that is intuitive and familiar. Looker is a Silicon Valley startup founded in 2012, which builds technology that allows people to rapidly gain insights from business data and use them to work smarter. Everyone from data analysts to office managers to delivery drivers can become a data-powered hero with Looker. Although it’s simple on the surface, under the hood Looker is a complex product that brings together big data, advanced analytics, machine learning, and more.

Wrangling all that complexity isn’t easy, which is why I was brought on to develop a compelling and differentiated product roadmap. Ultimately we recognized that businesses need a data platform with the openness to talk to any source and the flexibility to build data-driven applications for any need. That strategy got Google very excited. They see enormous value in empowering employees with tailored data experiences while also giving businesses complete control of the underlying data and infrastructure.

What happens after the acquisition? Do you stay on?

Absolutely, I’m just getting started! This is an exciting new chapter for Looker that presents an opportunity for us to accelerate our roadmap and broaden our ambition. Integrating our market-leading business intelligence capabilities with Google Cloud Platform will allow Looker to build data products that are simply magical. Together, we will define and deliver the next generation of business intelligence.

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