Cognism Funding Round

European Sales Acceleration vendor Cognism continues to demonstrate strong momentum out of the gate with a second funding round.  The firm closed on a £2.8 million round from investors including Oliver Wyman, South Central Ventures, LCIF, Newable, and existing investors.

The expansion capital will be “used to enhance the solution for Enterprises and also expand the offering into the Financial Services sector.”

“Cognism is moving beyond sales intelligence and applying its patented machine intelligence technology to understand the revenue challenges at the Enterprise level,” said CEO James Isilay.  “There is a natural fit between the data and analytics the Cognism platform provides and the strategy that can then be derived to enhance revenue at the Enterprise level. We are keen to showcase this value to this sector and hope our collaboration with Oliver Wyman will propel us forward and continue our strong growth.”

Cognism, which was founded in 2016, already has over 200 customers and has posted 617% revenue growth year-to-date.  The firm offers a data set of 400 million global companies and contacts.  Their Prospector service supports persona based prospecting, sales intelligence, and CRM connectors.  Other products include Refresh CRM enrichment and Engage sales acceleration (sales engagement).

“Our clients are continuously looking for new ways to accelerate growth. Cognism technology will provide our clients with dynamic insights into their existing client base, enabling them to develop more targeted solutions and improving sales success. At the same time, Cognism technology will allow our clients to make a step change in their prospecting efforts. Cognism’s data asset will allow our clients to identify prospects matching detailed personas, leveraging data on over 400M companies and individuals.”


Kai Upadek, Partner at Oliver Wyman

Cognism also announced the addition of Vidyard GoVideo to outbound emails.  Vidyard’s video “selfies” help sales reps personalize communications and “build stronger relationships with their prospects” with “one-to-one videos on-demand in a matter of moments.”

DiscoverOrg Expands Coverage

DiscoverOrg now offers two classes of segregated companies and contacts.
DiscoverOrg now offers two classes of segregated companies and contacts.

DiscoverOrg, which has historically focused on decisionmakers at top companies, greatly increased its company and contact coverage last week.  The firm now collects data on 500,000 global companies, trebling its coverage.  With respect to contacts, coverage grew five-fold to 20 million decision makers.  All of the new companies are headquartered in the United States, but roughly 27% of the new contacts work outside of the United States.

The expanded company and contact data has long been captured by DiscoverOrg but not presented within their service.  Thus, adding a lower tier of records presented a problem which was solved by segregating the records into two categories: Research Verified and Technology Generated.  Research verified profiles are collected and audited editorially.  They are subject to DiscoverOrg’s 95% data quality SLA with 96% direct dial fill rates and 98% email fill rates.  The research verified dataset spans 4.35 million contacts across 163,000 global companies.  This dataset remains their primary universe.

The technology generated dataset is collected, validated, deduped, and categorized by DiscoverOrg’s platform.  The dataset spans 15.5 million contacts across 319,000 additional US companies.  As the dataset also includes technology generated contacts at research-verified companies, sales and marketing can utilize the technology-verified contacts when there are few eligible contacts with the desired titles within the human-verified dataset.  They can also drill down into a universe of smaller companies not subject to human verification.

“The dramatic growth of our database is due to rapid advancements in technology-enabled processes built on a decade of expertise with human-verified research. This human+technology approach has allowed us to develop unique assets for cleansing, verifying, and maintaining data that gives our customers the best advantage available: deep, accurate and complete data that fuels their growth.”

Derek Smith, DiscoverOrg Senior Vice President of Data

When prospecting, human-verified and technology-verified contacts are displayed as separate lists.  When viewing contacts in a company profile, the human-verified contacts are displayed by default, but the technology-verified contacts are accessible if needed.

DiscoverOrg built its reputation with a human-researched and verified database of top companies which includes org charts, real-time buying signals, sales triggers, and technographics.  The firm is now deploying “proprietary technology and human-in-the-loop automation” to deliver “a significantly broader universe with levels of accuracy not typically seen at these volumes.”

DiscoverOrg President Katie Bullard did not provide details on their technological verification processes, but stated, “We have a variety of proprietary tools and technologies that ensure the highest level of depth and quality available in the market.  Some of these include tools for retrieving and validating direct dial phone numbers, email verification tools, and tools that parse job descriptions to identify technologies used.”

The expansion provides deeper coverage of SMBs.  94% of covered companies have fewer than 1,000 employees and 75% have fewer than 100.

The new contacts have a minimum of a corporate phone, email, title, department, and company.  Approximately 27% of the new contacts include direct dial phones.  DiscoverOrg is confident that email accuracy is above the industry standard.

“With this launch, no other company in the industry offers the data quality and depth that smart go-to-market motions demand, AND the data quantity to reach entire addressable markets,” claimed DiscoverOrg.

While DiscoverOrg covers international companies in its human-verified dataset, they do not have an international office, “but we’re always considering our international strategy,” said Bullard.

Aberdeen Acquires The Big Willow

Aberdeen combines online interactions (1st and 3rd-party) with targeting data to help identify intent qualified leads.  Aberdeen market research content and outbound calling teams help with opt-in steps and intent qualification (Source: Aberdeen)
Aberdeen combines online interactions (1st and 3rd-party) with targeting data to help identify intent qualified leads. Aberdeen market research content and outbound calling teams help with opt-in steps and intent qualification (Source: Aberdeen)

Technology marketing services vendor Aberdeen acquired intent vendor The Big Willow, creating anew marketing category of intent qualified leads for sales reps.  No financial details were provided.

The Big Willow describes itself as the “the leader in buyer intent data science and intent-targeted digital advertising.”  The firm monitors billions of daily web interactions to determine the interest intensity level across product categories.  The goal of intent data is to identify prospects early in the buying cycle so that vendors can begin marketing to them before they reach out to competitors, “thereby providing sellers a first-mover advantage and resulting in vastly more effective marketing and sales investment.”

Aberdeen CEO Marc Osofsky explained why a market research firm bought a source of intent data, “B2B marketing is undergoing a fundamental change as buyer journeys are now primarily online, and massive new data streams become available to improvethe performance of marketing and sales.  Our role is to capture and analyze this new buyer behavior data to help our clients improve marketing and sales performance.”

The Big Willow captures keywords and IP addresses and links them to D-U-N-S locations.  The firm also performs natural-language indexing of web sites for keyword assignment.

“We are focused on helping clients convert intent data into new wins,” said Osofsky. “The addition of The Big Willow makes us the only company with all ofthe necessary capabilities to deliver results from the power of intent data.”

Buyer intent data captures the online research of actual buyer journeys and determines a purchase intent signal from the noise of normal activity. Doing this at internet scale with keyword precision creates the most accurate way to predict who’s in market for your products or services.  Companies use these predictions to improve the performance of account-based marketing, targeted advertising, demand generation programs, content marketing and more.

Aberdeen

By combining The Big Willow’s online interactions (topic, keywords, PageURL, andOpt-in), Aberdeen’s targeting data (company, location, contacts), and first-party visitor intelligence and win/loss history, Aberdeen builds models to identify sales ready leads.  Aberdeen further helps identify opted-in, qualified contacts via its research library and call center.  Models are based on 18 months of buyers’ journeys indexed down to the device id.

“Marketing often struggles to deliver sales ready leads – content syndication leads can stall out in nurture, ABM activity does not lead to sales meetings,” says Aberdeen. “Our Intent Qualified Demand programs deliver because we do what the other approaches lack. We reach out as Aberdeen to target titles at in-market companies with research-based self-assessments to qualify

Aberdeen’s approach differs from predictive analytics in that they identify specific contacts showing current interest whereas predictive analytics models focus more on identifying companies which are similar to current customers.  Based on their buyer journey data and client closed/loss history, Aberdeen claims that their models achieve 91% accuracy in predicting purchase intent based on blind tests run by clients.

The Big Willow tracks buyer journeys across 3.7 billion device ids and 12 billion webpages.  The firm captures 480,000 keywords.  Aberdeen claims to offer “the largest, most accurate and highly targeted [intent data] in the market today.”

To further its goal of identifying Intent Qualified Opportunities, Aberdeen has grown its contacts file to 60 million names tied to geolocations and companies.

“Combined, Aberdeen and the Big Willow now deliver intent-qualified opportunities that include the specific company location of the intent and the target titles’ contact info,” said the firm.  “Clients have the option of a full-service, cost per lead program, a data lake delivery, or the opportunities and contacts sent directly into their CRM.”

The Big Willow CEO Charlie Tarzian has been named President and Chief Innovation Officer of Aberdeen while Keith Blackwell has assumed the position of Aberdeen Chief Operating Officer.

The Aberdeen Group was spun off of Harte-Hanks several years ago and contains Aberdeen market research and the old AccessCI (aka Harte-Hanks Market Intelligence) technographics database.

LinkedIn Email Downloading

LinkedIn users can block connections from downloading their emails.
LinkedIn users can block connections from downloading their emails.

LinkedIn added the option to restrict downloading of emails by their connections.  LinkedIn does not generally allow profile downloading or CRM synching except for permissioned connections.  Users now have the option to permit connections to view their emails but block them from downloading emails.  By default, emails are not downloadable unless users change their settings to permit downloads.

While the change is pro-privacy and consistent with GDPR, TechCrunch took a negative view of the new setting.

A win for privacy on LinkedIn could be a big loss for businesses, recruiters and anyone else expecting to be able to export the email addresses of their connections.…[The new option] could prevent some spam, and protect users who didn’t realize anyone who they’re connected to could download their email address into a giant spreadsheet. But the launch of this new setting without warning or even a formal announcement could piss off users who’d invested tons of time into the professional networking site in hopes of contacting their connections outside of it…

On a social network like Facebook, barring email exports makes more sense. But on LinkedIn’s professional network, where people are purposefully connecting with those they don’t know, and where exporting has always been allowed, making the change silently seems surreptitious. Perhaps LinkedIn didn’t want to bring attention to the fact it was allowing your email address to be slurped up by anyone you’re connected with, given the current media climate of intense scrutiny regarding privacy in social tech. But trying to hide a change that’s massively impactful to businesses that rely on LinkedIn could erode the trust of its core users.


Josh Constine, TechCrunch

TechCrunch overstates the loss.  Member control their data, not LinkedIn or LinkedIn connections.   Second, there are multiple ways to reach users from within LinkedIn including InMail, messaging, and PointDrive.  Unless the email is blocked on the profile, connections still have access to emails from within LinkedIn.  Finally, most emails in LinkedIn are personal emails, not business emails (an issue they should address by allowing both and setting privacy and messaging rules around multiple emails), so reaching out to individuals on their emails only makes sense for friends, family, and recruiters on LinkedIn, not businesspeople networking with colleagues and clients.

While LinkedIn wasn’t transparent about the privacy change, it enhanced the privacy of its members.  As such, looking for nefarious reasons for the enhancement is a reach.

Vertical IQ Launches Mobile App

Vertical IQ Summary (Mobile App)
Vertical IQ Summary (Mobile App)

Industry research firm Vertical IQ launched a mobile app which delivers condensed profiles of 300 industries which can be quickly viewed before meetings or while commuting.  The app is available on iPhone and Android devices at no additional charge for current customers.

“Vertical IQ users are busy professionals, and the reality is that they often don’t have the time to research and read an entire industry-related paper to prepare for a client or prospect meeting,” blogged the firm.  “In order to best help our busy customers, we have to design the most efficient, practical way possible to prepare for meetings—writing and organizing industry-specific information that is digestible, quick, and to-the-point.”

Industries are listed alphabetically and searchable by Vertical IQ industry, NAICS / SIC, and Favorites.  Searching is by keyword, so “Pest” returns Pest Control, Agricultural Chemical Manufacturers, Landscape Services, and Pest Control Services.  The results list may be viewed alphabetically or by sector.  The app has a short “Time to Pie,” a term coined by Intuit which means how quickly do users get to useful information.

Content is broken into eleven chapters which are navigated by a three-bar icon across fromthe chapter title:

  • Summary
  • Big Picture Video –  an industry overview which helps reps “quickly visualize the business, gain insight, and be ready to talk about points of [my client’s] industry.”
  • Fast Facts – Average company size, geographic distribution, top firms, business structure, etc.
  • Call Prep Questions – Capital Financing, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Risks to Watch Out for, Working Capital
  • Working Capital – Sell and Invoice, Collect, Manage Cash, Pay, Report, Cash Management Challenges
  • Trends
  • Risks – Industry Risks, Company Risks
  • Numbers – BizMiner industry ratios
  • News
  • Quarterly Insights
  • Bank Product Usage – Industry adoption of standard bank products from Barlow Research

Vertical IQ was co-founded by Bobby Martin, who also started First Research.  Both services provide an extensive set of industry snapshots for relationship managers looking to quickly learn about key industries.

“Vertical IQ helps you save time, increase the likelihood and effectiveness of pre-call planning, deepen relationships with clients, improve banker confidence during calls, and bridge the gap between a banker’s financial knowledge and business knowledge.”

Vertical IQ

Vertical IQ supports nearly 35,000 bankers, accountants and advisors who serve small to medium-sized businesses and professionals.  Along with subscription services, users may purchase individual reports for $99.

Salesforce: Trust is the Key Value for Tech Companies

Salesforce: Trust is the Key Value for Tech Companies

Speaking to Jim Cramer on Mad Money, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff argued that for technology companies, the key value is no longer the great idea, but trust:

In technology over the last two decades, the most important thing has been the idea. That is, the best idea wins.   That has been what gets you funded, that’s how you grow your company, that’s been your highest value: the best idea wins. No longer true.

The current highest value is trust, and if trust is not your highest value, if the most important thing to you and your company is not trust, you need to look again, and that’s what’s happening with these companies today.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff

Benioff observed that a lack of trust is eroding Silicon Valley companies such as Facebook.  “Their executives are walking out, employees are walking out,and that happens with a lot of companies in tech right now. We’ve had a lot of walkouts this quarter.  And the reason why is because it’s kind of amessage to the executives: it’s time to transform.”

“Every company has to hold themselves to a new level of trust, and if your brand is not about trust, you’re going to have customer issues, and you can see that in that brand,” observed Benioff.

And trust has long been part of Salesforce’s value proposition.  The firm emphasizes it’s 1:1:1 philanthropy program (Donating 1% of technology, people, and resources) which has been adopted as a model by other companies.  Salesforce also promotes local nonprofits at Salesforce events, emphasizes Trailhead and meetups for skills advancement, embraced a San Francisco tech company tax to address homelessness, called for a US GDPR to protect privacy, raised womens’ wages to address a pay equity gap following a self-audit, and spoke out against anti-gay legislation.  Under a short-term profit-maximization model, these activities make little sense, but under a longer-term stakeholder’s approach, they make perfect sense.

Trust is based on a stakeholders approach to corporate governance.  It recognizes that Milton Friedman’s stance against social responsibility (“there is one and only one social responsibility of business to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays in the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition, without deception or fraud.”) is wrong.  A stakeholders approach recognizes that employees, customers, partners, investors, and the general public all place value on companies that take a long-term view of their role in society.  Simple profit maximization is a short-term approach which fails to recognize that you can’t attract the best employees or close multi-million dollar deals if you are not trusted.

And you can see this in the stock price growth of Facebook and Salesforce over the past five years.  Facebook’s stock price outpaced Salesforce for the past five years, but once Facebook lost trust, its stock price declined.

Salesforce and Facebook both had strong stock price growth over the past five years, but Facebook retreated this year after it lost trust amongst stakeholders.
Salesforce and Facebook both had strong stock price growth over the past five years, but Facebook retreated this year after it lost trust amongst stakeholders.

Dun & Bradstreet Privatization Update

Dun & Bradstreet Logo
Dun & Bradstreet Logo

Dun & Bradstreet continues to dribble out news about its privatization plan.  Last week the firm announced that Motive Partners has joined the acquisition group and that Stephen C. Daffron, Co-Founder and Industry Partner of Motive Partners, will assume the role of President upon transaction close.

Two weeks ago Black Knight announced that it is acquiring a $375 million stake in Dun & Bradstreet.  Once the transaction closes, Anthony Jabbour, Black Knight’s CEO, will assume the Dun & Bradstreet CEO position. Black Knight’s Executive Chairman William P. Foley II will serve in a similar position at Dun & Bradstreet.

Black Knight describes itself as “a leading provider of integrated software, data and analytics solutions that facilitate and automate many of the business processes across the homeownership life cycle.”

“With an impressive 177-year legacy and the support of a phenomenal group of investors, Dun & Bradstreet is entering an important next chapter in its evolution as a company.  I am excited by the opportunities in leading Dun & Bradstreet and look forward to working closely with management, Bill and the rest of the consortium and continuing the Company’s long history of excellence in helping customers and partners around the world.”

Anthony Jabbour, Incoming CEO of Dun & Bradstreet

Dun & Bradstreet shareholders have already approved the $6.5 billion transaction which is expected to close no later than Q1 2019.  Other investors include CC Capital, Cannae Holdings and Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. 

Last month, Dun & Bradstreet shareholders approved the deal.  Dun & Bradstreet still needs approval from the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service and the UK Financial Conduct Authority.

Motive is a sector specialist investment firm focused on technology-enabled financial services companies.

Daffron served as the CEO of Interactive Data and held senior positions at Morgan Stanley, Renaissance Technologies, Goldman Sachs and Motive Partners.

“I am excited by this unique opportunity to work side-by-side with Anthony [Jabbour] in leading Dun & Bradstreet and look forward to working closely with management, Bill [Foley] and the rest of the investor consortium to help unlock the value within this renowned company,” said Daffron.  “Dun & Bradstreet is entering an important chapter in its evolution as a company and will be well positioned as a private company to increase operating efficiencies and effectively execute the company’s growth strategy.”