We find and analyze management for our customers. It’s one of the most popular things we do. So we know that helping users get a better, richer picture of who matters in the companies and markets they care about is valuable intelligence. Enter from stage left: Salesforce.com buys Jigsaw.com today. Jigsaw has a mixed reputation – from Michael Arrington of Techcrunch originally calling them evil in 2006, and then in 2009 just calling them amoral – to the New York Times describing them as driven by users self interest. They’ve been growing, but not like LinkedIn; revenue has been doubling, but was it enough to go it alone? But whatever you may think about their business model, and your “friends” revealing your contact information into a central database, the net result is more than 1.2 million members and more than 22 million contacts. Salesforce has positioned this as entering the $3B data services market – and creating “new opportunities” to partner more closely with other data providers like D&B, Hoovers and Lexis Nexis. But I think this is a classic misdirect. I agree with Michael Maoz – what’s really going on here is the convergence in the needs of CRM and the social process. Users want dynamic, current data. They know that today the most up-to-date information is on the web. It’s in networks, it’s in blogs, it’s living in the thousands of phoenixes (or should that be the correct Latin phoenices?) rising from the ashes of the breakdown of traditional journalism. They don’t want to get data from databases built from manual processes and filings – they are simply always out of date. And so for Salesforce, the ability to pick up a dynamic contact list and the continuously updating process behind it (since we have to assume LinkedIn was not for sale) is a way for them to bring that dynamism into their CRM platform and into their moves into social media. It’s a smart move. But I do wonder what the long term impact is for the traditional, static databases. I know at FirstRain we are replacing Factiva today because our intelligence is richer, fresher (and easier, but that’s another story) – will Salesforce end up competing with Hoovers et al?
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