An act of empathy: why I joined Looker
Apr 17, 2019
I'm sitting in the audience at Looker's JOIN: The Tour event in New York City, when the speaker on stage shares a quote from the company's co-founder, Lloyd Tabb:
"Great software is an act of empathy."
The quote, which invites us to listen to and understand the people using our products, is as profound as it is surprising. One expects founders of high-tech startups to make grand statements about growth, innovation, and disruption — all lofty goals, to be sure — but empathy is an act that reveals emotion and humility. These aren't qualities typically associated with ambitious leaders of hot technology companies.
But at Looker, a data & analytics platform company I joined this month, this kind of thinking is part of the culture, ingrained in the values taught to all Looker employees (referred to affectionately as "Lookers") during new hire orientation. Values like loving our customers (not just making them successful), welcoming and embracing diversity, teaching others, acting with integrity and authenticity, checking your ego at the door, and finding time to unplug and nurture the mind, body, and soul.
Now, if all this sounds too good to be true, I don't blame you. As a 20+ year veteran of the data & analytics industry, I'm as jaded as they come. But I've also been around long enough to know when I've found something special, and this place is special.
And culture isn’t the only quality that makes Looker special. What ultimately convinced me to join was realizing we share the same core beliefs when it comes to data & analytics.
All people are data people
We share the belief that business intelligence and analytics software has primarily been designed for data-savvy analysts. Historically, for the “data-driven workforce” — those of us who need data to do our jobs but whose job is not data — these products haven’t worked. If we want to help companies become data-driven, we must design software for everyone, not just data analysts.
Data-driven experiences vs. dashboards
We also agree that great data & analytics software should reach us through the applications we already use. Business professionals today don't live in reports and dashboards — we live in business applications like Salesforce, Google Analytics, and collaboration tools like Slack. We must deliver "data-driven experiences" that seamlessly blend into and enhance our existing business workflows.
Governance is not a dirty word
I firmly believe that a business-friendly user experience is not at odds with well-governed data. Vendors of desktop discovery tools trivialize the "single version of the truth" while their customers suffer from unreliable data and inconsistent KPIs. Agile semantic layers are essential to empower companies with trusted data for more confident decisions, and this is a conviction Looker also shares.
Data for good
Finally, the belief that data can and should be used for a greater purpose is something I am especially encouraged to find at Looker. I was delighted to learn about Looker for Good, a way of giving back to our communities by pledging 1% of our product and our employee time to charity, and by offering significantly discounted prices to non-profit organizations who purchase our software.
Looker is my title
I am thrilled to join a growing company guided by fundamentally principled values, with a unique vision of what data & analytics should be, and a brilliant and talented team of Lookers committed to making customers happy and successful.
I am thrilled to have this extraordinary opportunity to help build something truly unique. To be a part of a company creating great software designed with empathy that delivers data-driven experiences to fit with the way people work is an adventure I’m excited to embark on.
I am thrilled to be a Looker.