ZoomInfo Acquires Clickagy

Sales and Marketing Intelligence vendor ZoomInfo acquired real-time intent vendor Clickagy, “a leading provider of artificial intelligence-powered buyer intent data.”

Along with the acquisition, ZoomInfo announced the launch of Streaming Intent, which alerts customers when companies display above-average B2B topic search activity.

The acquisition is DiscoverOrg/ZoomInfo’s fourth over the past two years but the first since ZoomInfo went public in June.  In 2019, DiscoverOrg acquired rival sales and marketing intelligence vendor ZoomInfo before rebranding itself as ZoomInfo Technologies.  It also had two tuck-ins last year: NeverBounce, an email verification vendor that it was already using for data verification, and Komiko, the underpinnings of its Inbox AI service.

There are six major categories of B2B intelligence, and ZoomInfo is a significant player in four of them: Contacts, Technographics, Sales Triggers, and Intent Data.  They also provide firmographics, but this remains an area for future growth and development.  The category where they do not offer datasets is financial services intelligence, including company financials, filings (e.g. SEC EDGAR, UCC, UK Companies House), and risk reports (credit and supplier).

Deal Rationale

“In the last year alone, we’ve had literally hundreds of thousands of conversations with customers and prospects and one thing is clear—they want intent data to live at the core of how they go to market,” blogged CEO Henry Schuck about the rationale for acquiring Clickagy.  “And over the course of those calls it’s easy to see intent data taking a seat right alongside the two most important pieces of business information—account and contact data.  The three together, driving account identification, targeting, and segmentation will soon be table stakes for how sellers and marketers identify their next best customers.”

Schuck emphasized that product design at ZoomInfo is iterative with plans for improving a product in place before each release goes to production.  Shuck called their previous intent offerings good, but not good enough.  This drive to improve their intent services led them to investigate best-of-breed intent data solutions to enhance their offering.  Their research led them to Clickagy.

“Clickagy had built a robust data processing engine that looks at billions of key data points across millions of websites and then uses robust natural language processing and artificial intelligence to categorize and make sense of those data points.  Their technology, approach to data collection, privacy-first perspective, and focus on intent data made it clear that we not only wanted Clickagy to be a part of our intent product, but we needed Clickagy to be a part of ZoomInfo.”

ZoomInfo CEO Henry Schuck

ZoomInfo Intent will continue to provide “good keywords, quality-focused data science, [and] industry-leading account data,” but now “casts a wider net” and delivers actionable intent throughout the day.  Combining the companies will “dramatically shorten the path from data, to decision, to action,” blogged Shuck.

“B2B intent data is becoming core to the way modern go-to-market organizations prioritize their outreach to prospects and customers,” wrote Schuck.  “Our acquisition of Clickagy enables us to scale intent to provide what will soon be the market’s most predictive and complete B2B intent data set for sellers and marketers.  We believe this acquisition both exemplifies our mission to continuously innovate and cements our position as the pacesetter for data-driven sales and marketing outreach.”


Tomorrow I will wrap up my discussion of the acquisition with an overview of Streaming Intent and Clickagy’s approach to data privacy.

CJEU Invalidates EU-US Privacy Shield Data Transfers

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) struck down the EU-US Privacy Shield that allows firms to transfer EU citizen’s private data to the United States for data processing.  The EU maintains higher consumer data privacy laws that conflict with US security and legal policies.

“Today’s decision effectively blocks legal transfers of personal data from the EU to the US.  It will undoubtedly leave tens of thousands of US companies scrambling and without a legal means to conduct transatlantic business, worth trillions of dollars annually,” said Caitlin Fennessy, research director at the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).

The CJEU held that “the requirements of US national security, public interest and law enforcement have primacy, thus condoning interference with the fundamental rights of persons whose data are transferred to that third country.”

“In the absence of an adequacy decision, such transfer may take place only if the personal data exporter established in the EU has provided appropriate safeguards, which may arise, in particular, from standard data protection clauses adopted by the Commission, and if data subjects have enforceable rights and effective legal remedies…

The Court considers, first of all, that EU law, and in particular the GDPR, applies to the transfer of personal data for commercial purposes by an economic operator established in a Member State to another economic operator established in a third country, even if, at the time of that transfer or thereafter, that data may be processed by the authorities of the third country in question for the purposes of public security, defence and State security. The Court adds that this type of data processing by the authorities of a third country cannot preclude such a transfer from the scope of the GDPR.

Regarding the level of protection required in respect of such a transfer, the Court holds that the requirements laid down for such purposes by the GDPR concerning appropriate safeguards, enforceable rights and effective legal remedies must be interpreted as meaning that data subjects whose personal data are transferred to a third country pursuant to standard data protection clauses must be afforded a level of protection essentially equivalent to that guaranteed within the EU by the GDPR, read in the light of the Charter. In those circumstances, the Court specifies that the assessment of that level of protection must take into consideration both the contractual clauses agreed between the data exporter established in the EU and the recipient of the transfer established in the third country concerned and, as regards any access by the public authorities of that third country to the data transferred, the relevant aspects of the legal system of that third country.

Regarding the supervisory authorities’ obligations in connection with such a transfer, the Court holds that, unless there is a valid Commission adequacy decision, those competent supervisory authorities are required to suspend or prohibit a transfer of personal data to a third country where they take the view, in the light of all the circumstances of that transfer, that the standard data protection clauses are not or cannot be complied with in that country and that the protection of the data transferred that is required by EU law cannot be ensured by other means, where the data exporter established in the EU has not itself suspended or put an end to such a transfer.”

“Data Protection Commissioner Ireland v Facebook Ireland Limited, Maximillian Schrems,” 16 July 2020

The EU-US Privacy Shield was implemented several years ago after the CJEU held that the prior US Safe Harbor regime was insufficient.

Privacy advocate Max Schrems brought the cases that invalidated Safe Harbor and EU-US Privacy Shield.  Following the ruling, he stated:

“It is clear that the US will have to seriously change their surveillance laws, if US companies want to continue to play a role on the EU market…The Court clarified for a second time now that there is a clash of EU privacy law and US surveillance law.  As the EU will not change its fundamental rights to please the NSA, the only way to overcome this clash is for the US to introduce solid privacy rights for all people — including foreigners.  Surveillance reform thereby becomes crucial for the business interests of Silicon Valley…

This judgment is not the cause of a limit to data transfers, but the consequence of US surveillance laws.  You can’t blame the Court to say the unavoidable — when shit hits the fan, you can’t blame the fan.”

Privacy Advocate and Plaintiff Max Schrems

“This leaves a huge question mark over data transfers to the US, said Tanguy Van Overstraeten, partner and global head of privacy and data protection law at the law firm Linklaters.  “The Court has struck down the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield because it considers the US state surveillance powers are excessive.  For the thousands of businesses registered with the US Privacy Shield, this will be groundhog day; this is the second time the FTC operated scheme has been struck down after the Shields predecessor — the Safe Harbor — was struck down in 2015.  Businesses will now look to EU regulators to propose some form of transition to allow them to move away from Privacy Shield without the threat of significant sanctions and civil compensation claims.”

The ruling also puts in question data transfers to Russia, China, and potentially the UK post-Brexit.

“The CJEU’s judgment could have implications for the UK’s prospects of gaining adequacy at the end of the Brexit transition period,” said Peter Church, counsel at Linklaters.  “This will necessarily involve an assessment of the UK’s surveillance powers under the Investigatory Powers Act 2016.  However, there are a number of differences between the UK and US regimes.  For example, the UK regime has already been reviewed by the European courts and a number of amendments have been made to bring it into line with European law.  In addition, the UK regime does not have the same distinction between UK and foreign nationals, unlike US law which does not grant the same rights to non-US citizens.”

“This is a bold move by Europe,” said Jonathan Kewley, co-head of technology at law firm Clifford Chance.  “What we are seeing here looks suspiciously like a privacy trade war, where Europe is saying their data standards can be trusted but those in the US cannot.”

Standard Contract Clauses (SCCs) may also be insufficient.  “If the law in the relevant country – let’s say the USA – could override what the contract says, they don’t work,” said Kewley.  “I don’t know how much appetite they have to do this, but it’s hard to imagine that any European regulator would say that SCCs work for the US, and the pressure will pile on for them to make the assessment.  I don’t think SCCs escaped the court’s judgement – for some key countries, it’s probably just a stay of execution.”

One likely impact will be the localized processing of EU consumer data within EU data centers.  Over 5,300 companies rely upon the EU-US Privacy Shield as part of their GDPR and broader EU compliance.  Companies that rely upon the Privacy Shield span a broad set of B2B data, DaaS, social networking, CDPs, and cloud companies [searchable list].  These include Zoominfo, Dun & Bradstreet (including Lattice Engines), Experian, Infogroup, TechTarget, Microsoft (including LinkedIn), Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon (including AWS), Oracle, Salesforce, HubSpot, Adobe (including Marketo), LiveRamp, Melissa, TowerData, 6Sense, Leadspace, SalesLoft, Outreach, Groove, VanillaSoft, Yesware, and ConnectLeader.

Firms are also likely to ramp up their GDPR and CCPA compliance messaging, but that does not address the weaker data privacy structures of US law.

Dun & Bradstreet Acquires Orb Intelligence

Dun & Bradstreet is opening up the year with a bang.  First, they announced a partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), and then they acquired Orb Intelligence, business identity and firmographics data provider.  The acquisition follows acquisitions of Customer Data Platform Lattice Engines in July, Sales Intelligence vendor Avention (now D&B Hoovers) in 2017, and B2B DaaS vendor NetProspex (now D&B Optimizer) in 2015.  The acquisitions have helped transition Dun & Bradstreet from an old-line sales and marketing information vendor to a digital analytics and activation provider.

“The acquisition of Orb Intelligence cements our strategy to link the digital and physical worlds in the largest global repository of B2B data and to provide enriched firmographic data to customer profiles to help our clients more effectively execute campaigns to improve customer interactions and revenue returns,” said Michael Bird, President of Dun & Bradstreet’s Sales & Marketing Solutions division.  “Clients can rely on Dun & Bradstreet as the one-stop-shop for all of their data-driven, decision-making and customer engagement needs.”

Orb Intelligence employs machine language and natural language processing tools for deriving firmographic and technographic intelligence from the open web and government documents.  Their global database spans 57 million companies.  Content includes web domains, URLs, IP addresses, social networks, government ids, corporate linkage, funding, trademarks, and technographics.  Orb Intelligence has served as the “data backbone to many of today’s most well-known B2B sales, marketing and analytics organizations focused on digital marketing or sales initiatives.”

“This will be something of a shockwave for many in the ABM tech industry as Orb is an unknown ingredient in so many (in fact I would guess most) ABM MarTech platforms,” wrote B2B IQ President Liam Blackwell (Note: Blackwell is also an Orb Intelligence advisor).  “It is often used as the backbone, with the Orb number as the key for connection.  It is going to be interesting to see how D&B controls / monetizes future usage of the Orb data – this will be a major worry for some of those platforms and obviously an opportunity for other data providers.”

Orb is an original data provider and does not compile or resell data from other vendors.  Along with company profiles, the firm maintains databases on US educational facilities, government agencies and offices, and healthcare providers.

If you already use other data providers such as Dun & Bradstreet, you can increase your match rate by 10-25% by matching unmatched records onto the Orb Database.  We collect data from different sources than Dun & Bradstreet, which is why the Orb Database is often used to complement D&B data.

Orb Intelligence website (pre-acquisition marketing text)

Dun & Bradstreet listed several benefits for their customers, beginning with the ability to cross-validate data across online and offline sources.  Upgraded customer profiles will improve the depth and accuracy of business attributes for digital ABM programs and audience targeting.  Enhanced content will flow through to D&B Audience Targeting, D&B Visitor Intelligence, D&B Hoovers, and D&B Lattice for anonymous visitor match, programmatic targeting and sales outreach.

Dun & Bradstreet also sees a “measurable impact” for the combined data cloud which will simplify the connection and segmentation of audiences, the creation of artificial intelligence (AI) models, and activation of channels through the D&B Lattice Customer Data Platform (CDP), to deliver the best sales and marketing campaigns.”

The transaction closed on January 8th.  The parties did not disclose deal terms.

LinkedIn lists 17 Orb Intelligence employees, including CEO Maria Grineva, who is joining Dun & Bradstreet as a Vice President.

LinkedIn Restates Its Members-First Principles

LinkedIn Logo

In a blog titled, “Maintaining the Trust of our Members,” LinkedIn recommitted itself to a members-first approach.  The Microsoft subsidiary frames its decision-making with the question, “Is this the right thing to do for our members?”

Along with a members-first policy, LinkedIn employs four principles to frame decisions:

  • Members maintain clarity, consistency, and control over their data. This goal is manifested in a broad set of privacy settings, observing the stated wishes of each member, and protecting their data.  Microsoft employs a global GDPR standard and does not transfer member data to other companies.  For example, LinkedIn Sales Navigator limits data access to member-data view-only access, which displays profiles within CRMs and other partner applications but does not transfer data to those platforms.
  • LinkedIn will remain a safe, trusted, and professional platform.  The firm removes content which violates their Professional Community Policies and removes fake profiles, jobs, and companies.
  • LinkedIn is committed to removing unfair bias from its platform so that individuals with equal talent have equal access to opportunity.  “To achieve this goal, we are committed to building a product with no unfair bias that provides opportunity to all of our members.  There is a lot of work still to do, but we are focused on working across our company, with our members and customers, and across the industry to close the network gap.”
  • As a global platform, they are committed to respecting the laws that apply to them and “contributing to the dialogue” about legal frameworks.

LinkedIn Advertising is subject to an initial review.  LinkedIn vets ads to ensure they are non-discriminatory:

“Even if legal in the applicable jurisdiction, LinkedIn does not allow ads that advocate, promote, or contain discriminatory hiring practices or denial of education, housing, or economic opportunity based on age, gender, religion, ethnicity, race, or sexual preference.  Ads that promote the denial or restriction of fair and equal access to education, housing, or credit or career opportunities are prohibited.”

Blake Lawit, LinkedIn General Counsel

The statement of principles comes at a time when other social media firms are struggling to develop rules and policies around political advertising. LinkedIn does not carry political advertising and also restricts adult content, illegal, health, gaming, weapons, multi-level marketing, alcohol, tobacco, and financial (payday loans, cryptocurrency) products.  

LinkedIn continues to grow its customer base with 660 million members across 200 countries and 30 million companies.  The top countries are the United States (165M members), India (62M), China (48M), Brazil (40M), and the UK (27M).

LinkedIn maintains offices in nine US cities and 24 international locations. The platform supports 24 languages.

Court Rules LinkedIn Scraping Legal

In a ninth Circuit Court ruling last week, the Court sided with hiQ Labs which had been barred from accessing LinkedIn for the purposes of scraping public profiles.  hiQ Labs, a data analytics company which identifies employees who may be looking to depart, won a preliminary injunction against LinkedIn.  This is the second court which has evaluated the case and sided against the Microsoft subsidiary.

LinkedIn argued that scraping after a cease-and-desist letter was “without authorization” under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), but hiQ Labs argued that the content was public and that scraping public data was not akin to hacking.

The Court ruled that “there is little evidence that LinkedIn users who choose to make their profiles public actually maintain an expectation of privacy with respect to the information that they post publicly, and it is doubtful that they do.”

The Court continued, “LinkedIn invokes an interest in preventing ‘free riders’ from using profiles posted on its platform.  But LinkedIn has no protected property interest in the data contributed by its users, as the users retain ownership over their profiles.”

The National Law Review summarized the case:

Most notably, the Ninth Circuit held that HiQ had shown a likelihood of success on the merits in its claim that when a computer network generally permits public access to its data, a user’s accessing that publicly available data will not constitute access “without authorization” under the CFAA.

In light of this ruling, data scrapers, content aggregators and advocates of a more open internet will certainly be emboldened, but we reiterate something we advised back in our 2017 Client Alert about the lower court HiQ decision: while the Ninth Circuit’s decision suggests that the CFAA is not an available remedy to protect against unwanted scraping of public website data that is “presumptively open to all,” entities engaged in scraping should remain careful. The road ahead, while perhaps less bumpy than before, still contains rough patches.  Indeed, the Ninth Circuit cautioned that its opinion was issued only at the preliminary injunction stage and that the court did not “resolve the companies’ legal dispute definitively, nor do we address all the claims and defenses they have pleaded in the district court.”…

On appeal, the parties offered dueling visions of what the law surrounding the CFAA and scraping should be:

LinkedIn: “[A]uthorization from LinkedIn—the server’s owner—is ‘needed’ to avoid CFAA liability, regardless of whether those servers also host data that LinkedIn generally makes available on its website.  hiQ lacked that required “authorization” once LinkedIn sent hiQ its cease-and-desist letter and implemented additional technological barriers restricting bot access.”

HiQ: “LinkedIn does not grant permission to access its public content because those pages are, by definition, open for all to see and use.  hiQ, like any other Internet user, simply requests LinkedIn’s public pages, and LinkedIn’s servers automatically provide them.  There is no “authorization” for LinkedIn to revoke.  Reading the statute in accordance with the language’s ordinary significance, “without authorization” refers to circumstances where authorization is a prerequisite to access.”

National Law Review

Intentional access without authorization under the CFAA generally covers hacking and employee access after permission has been rescinded.  As public profiles are not subject to passwords, the question of whether the CFAA applied was in question.

“It is likely that when a computer network generally permits public access to its data, a user’s accessing that publicly available data will not constitute access without authorization under the CFAA,” wrote the Court.  “The data hiQ seeks to access is not owned by LinkedIn and has not been demarcated by LinkedIn as private using such an authorization system.  HiQ has therefore raised serious questions about whether LinkedIn may invoke the CFAA to preempt hiQ’s possibly meritorious tortious interference claim.”

Thus, the ruling supports web scraping of public sites.  What it doesn’t address is whether harvesting member data for the purposes of generating datasets which counter the interests of social media sites and its members is against the public interest.  This question may be more of a public policy question than a legal one.  Members join LinkedIn for the purposes of professional networking, job searching, and self-marketing.  While public LinkedIn does not publish emails or direct dials, it includes work and educational histories, interests, affiliations, and other personal content.  Furthermore, it is easy to guess at emails making it fairly trivial to assemble email files for spammers.  It is very possible, that the HiQ Labs ruling conforms with US law but due to the Personally Identifiable Information content being gathered is counter to European GDPR.  The result could well be the loss of public LinkedIn profiles or a thinning of publicly posted profiles.

The Court focused on the CFAA and did not evaluate other arguments when granting relief.  “State law trespass to chattels claims may still be available.  And other causes of action, such as copyright infringement, misappropriation, unjust enrichment, conversion, breach of contract, or breach of privacy, may also lie,” stated the Court.

Orin Kerr, a law professor at UC Berkeley called the ruling a “major decision for the open internet.  It doesn’t establish that scraping websites is completely legal, but it goes a long way toward establishing that it’s not a federal crime.”

In the case of HiQ, they offer predictive attrition models which could result in individuals not being hired or employees not being promoted.  “Keeper is the first HCM tool to offer predictive attrition insights about an organization’s employees based on publicly available data,” says the firm.  While some high-value employees may enjoy additional leverage due to these models, others may be mistrusted.  

One could imagine other detrimental use cases such as credit companies tracking employment and lowering credit scores.  The result would be higher interest costs and a lowered ability to find a job.  The result would be decreased transparency and truthfulness on LinkedIn.

As such, the scraping of LinkedIn data could undermine the trust members have in LinkedIn or limit the permissions granted to LinkedIn.  If LinkedIn played fast-and-loose with member data, they would have less standing, but LinkedIn does not permit downloading of member data to Excel or the uploading of member data to CRMs.  Sales Navigator treats member data as view only in its SNAP connectors.  Thus, LinkedIn is placing data privacy rules on itself that it cannot place on third-parties that gather LinkedIn data.  More broadly, parent company Microsoft has committed itself to GDPR as a global data privacy standard.

Analyst David Raab of the Customer Data Platform Institute had a tongue-in-cheek view of the case: “In what I like to think of as CSI: Obvious Division, a federal appeals court ruled that LinkedIn can’t block scraping of published member data because people had no expectation of privacy for their public profiles.  It’s rather amazing LinkedIn thought they could win with that one.” .dialogRendere

ABM Research Vendors

When conducting account based (ABM) research, it is necessary to develop a broad view of your customers and prospects which includes company, contact, and industry research.   Unfortunately, open web research is quite time-consuming and your sales reps are unlikely to consistently engage in general research, so consider Sales Intelligence vendors with editorial research teams. 

Executive research should go beyond the Leadership page and LinkedIn profiles.  One option is Boardroom Insiders which gathers rich executive profiles on CxOs written by business journalists.

For industry research, look at Vertical IQ, IBISWorld, or First Research.  Vertical IQ and First Research are strong offerings for sales teams that sell broadly across many segments but are not verticalized.  They are written in plain English and include Q&A sections. The content in IBISWorld is more formal but better suited for verticalized teams.

At the company level, consider Dun & Bradstreet Hoovers, InsideView, or DiscoverOrg.  All three provide company and contact profiles, list building, and sales triggers.  D&B Hoovers goes deeper on global coverage, family trees, and industry profiles, DiscoverOrg offers the deepest set of technographics and rich bios, and InsideView provides excellent sales triggers and social media intelligence.

SalesIntel: Company Profiles, Technographic Searching, & New Connectors

SalesIntel Company Profile
SalesIntel Company Profile

I profiled SalesIntel and its human-verified contacts last summer but failed to cover a series of announcements from them over the past nine months (they were covered in my newsletter, but didn’t make it into my blog).

SalesIntel continues its database build out with company intelligence alongside their database of nearly three million high-quality US contacts. Each of these contacts is reverified each quarter, providing a smaller, but significantly higher quality email and direct dial dataset than other vendors. The exception is DealSignal which is performing overnight data validation so also delivering recently verified contacts.

Along with high-quality contacts, SalesIntel added company profiles which provide contact context.  Company profiles are accessed by performing a company name search and clicking on the company name in the resulting contact list. The new profiles contain the following sections:

  • Company logo and name
  • Executive Intel — the names and titles of the top-level executives at the firm.  Users can click on the executives to view their details.
  • Firmographic data from Owler
  • HQ info
  • Industry & Sector info
  • Tech Intel — vendors and product deployed at the company
  • Contact Intel — a grid containing the number of executives available within SalesIntel by job function and level.  Clicking on a number takes the user to a list of contacts for the company at that function and level.  Users can also obtain filtered lists by clicking on the totals by job function or level.

The most recent enhancement is the incorporation of Owler firmographics into their database. SalesIntel users can also view Owler’s real-time news alerts for their prospects including IPOs, Funding, and Acquisition news.

“Owler helps sales teams work faster and smarter. We provide accurate and up-to-date information about companies and their top competitors, as well as deliver real-time actionable insights about the companies that matter to your pipeline.”



Tim Harsch, CEO of Owler

SalesLoft released sales engagement connectors for Outreach and SalesLoft late last year. Duplicate checking is performed.  Records are tagged and assigned to SalesLoft cadences and Outreach sequences.

A HubSpot connecter was also released. The integration allows users to select contact owners and assign exported contacts to a workflow. Duplicate record checking is supported.

New targeting features include US metro areas and technographic searching.  Users can screen by product, vendor, or category.  The technographics file was licensed from HG Insights (FKA HG Data).

Category searching may be performed by keyword or navigating a technology category tree.  Technographic searching is a component of the company module.

SalesIntel Technographic Screening
SalesIntel Technographic Screening

Contacts are sold in annual plans with contact records beginning at a dollar per record.

SalesIntel was launched last summer.  Ramnani said his firm is receiving “very positive feedback from the market.”

DiscoverOrg Acquires Zoominfo

DiscoverOrg and Zoominfo Acquisition History
DiscoverOrg and Zoominfo Acquisition History

Industry consolidation continues apace in the sales and marketing intelligence industry.  This afternoon, DiscoverOrg announced the acquisition of Zoominfo, just eighteen months after acquiring RainKing.  Zoominfo acquired technographics vendor Datanyze in September, so DiscoverOrg will be integrating both a contacts vendor and a technographics vendor.

The acquisition moves DiscoverOrg into the number two position in the Sales and Marketing Intelligence space with $230 million in joint revenues.  Only LinkedIn Sales Navigator has a larger market share.

Debtwire leaked the deal on January 25th indicating that “Zebra” was a direct competitor.  According to Debtwire, DiscoverOrg was “pitching its unrated buyout loan package on strong recent growth and a story that the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts, said five buysiders familiar with the deal.  Meanwhile, levering up the capital structure draws attention to the borrower’s ability to meet synergy projections – which could crimp its free cash flow, especially amid an ambitious technology integration plan, they said.”

Debtwire indicated that the acquisition was priced at $800 million, a three-fold increase from Great Hill’s summer 2017 acquisition price of $240 million for Zoominfo.  Debtwire also indicated an FY18 management adjusted EBITDA of $62.7 million for DiscoverOrg and $17.7 for Zoominfo.

Revenue Growth Data from Inc. 5000 (2011 - 2017) and Debtwire (2018)
Revenue Growth Data from Inc. 5000 (2011 – 2017) and Debtwire (2018)

Revenue growth for both companies is strong.  DiscoverOrg has made the Inc. 5000 list for eight straight years and Zoominfo for the past four years.  Debtwire indicated revenue growth figures of 26% and 30% over the past two years for DiscoverOrg with revenue hitting $152 million in 2018.  Zoominfo has grown at an even faster pace over the past two years with growth rates of 63% and 44%.  Thus, Zoominfo revenue grew from $39 million in 2016 to $91 million last year.

Based on the Debtwire revenue numbers for 2018 and historical revenue figures from the Inc. 5000 list, DiscoverOrg had a seven-year CAGR of 61% and Zoominfo of 34%.  Zoominfo’s growth rate is mostly organic while DiscoverOrg’s organic seven-year CAGR, after adjusting for RainKing revenue, is around 53%.

The two firms are strongly complementary.  Zoominfo provides the deepest set of B2B emails and direct dials with content mined from email signature blocks.  DiscoverOrg offers deep technology profiles (technographics and project plans) alongside human verified bios (skills, responsibilities, education, work histories, emails, direct dials, and social links), org charts, and company profiles.  DiscoverOrg’s human verification supports a 95% data quality SLA for its contacts.  Zoominfo’s Datanyze acquisition provides DiscoverOrg with additional NLP tools for determining products and vendors alongside market share analytics tools for marketing and competitive intelligence teams.

“Business data is rapidly changing and your data platforms must be built to adapt,” said Zoominfo CEO Derek Schoettle in September.  “ZoomInfo has the largest, most complete data set of companies and contacts and a goal to enable our customers to automate, process, curate, and present the data on-demand and in real-time. Delivering industry-leading technographics, the Datanyze technology will be a significant addition to help us deliver the right data, at the right time, to the right person.”

“DiscoverOrg’s deep, research-verified, actionable insights coming together with ZoomInfo’s comprehensive coverage of 100M business professionals is an unrivaled combo,” said the firm.  “We each employ different, but highly advanced technologies and tools to gather, cleanse, and maintain at an unparalleled scale.”

“To effectively capitalize on growth opportunities, companies of all sizes need accurate firmographic, technographic, contact, and intent data. Combined, DiscoverOrg and ZoomInfo deliver the trifecta: B2B data of the highest quality, quantity, and depth.”


DiscoverOrg CEO Henry Schuck

Over the past few years, sales intelligence has moved from a standalone browser research service for sales reps to an integrated workflow solution tied into CRMs, Marketing Automation Platforms, Sales Engagement Platforms, Chrome Browsers, and email.  DiscoverOrg has been at the forefront of these integrations with a broad set of platform connectors.  CEO Henry Schuck emphasized these workflow tools during the announcement.  “High-quality data is the fundamental go-to-market requirement for growth. In the near future, CRM and marketing automation systems will be defined not by their empty-box capabilities – but by the data that is housed inside them.”

While highly complementary, the combined companies remain weak with respect to deep company profiles.  DiscoverOrg recently added family trees, but they are to the subsidiary level, not branches.  They also lack public company financials, US and UK filings, SWOTs, and industry research.

When DiscoverOrg acquired rival RainKing in August 2017, CEO Henry Schuck stated the following goal, “The path to rapid revenue growth is paved with highly accurate, actionable, and predictive sales and marketing data, and the combination of RainKing and DiscoverOrg means that our joint customer base has access to an extraordinary portfolio of data, contextual buying insights, and predictive intelligence.  We are building a company that is to sales and marketing intelligence what Salesforce is to CRM.”

Schuck’s vision was updated today:

“Every sales and marketing team will have a go-to-market operating system that identifies the prospects that should be engaged every day, week, and month based on buying signals and intent data collected in a multitude of different ways. Even better, they have deep insights on the buyers who are making the purchase decisions with accurate contact, org chart, technographic, and firmographic data. It’s all at their fingertips and it’s all served to them dynamically – wherever they are working.”


DiscoverOrg Statement

DiscoverOrg stated that support, service, and sales for all products will continue.  Both platforms will be sold for the next six to twelve months “with highly coordinated sales and marketing efforts to ensure customers realize the most value from the platform(s) that best serve their needs.”  In March, joint customers will have a light integration between the two platforms followed quickly by DiscoverOrg customer access to Zoominfo company and contact data.

“As we combine the best of both platforms over the next year, customers will have the best, bar-none, B2B intelligence platform -the highest quality data with the broadest coverage and deepest actionable insights,” said the firm.

The combined company has 15,000 active customers and 120,000 active users, with the Zoominfo acquisition trebling the customer count.

DiscoverOrg stated that there are no plans to shutter any of Zoominfo’s locations and that hiring will continue for all Zoominfo offices.  Zoominfo has more than doubled its staff over the past year with headcount spread over six locations: Waltham (MA), San Mateo (CA), Grand Rapid (MI), St Petersburg (Russia), Kazan (Russia), and Ra’anana (Israel).  Zoominfo moved into a new headquarters location in Waltham, MA just last month.  The lease provides space for up to 450 employees.  Globally, DiscoverOrg has over 1,000 employees.

DiscoverOrg’s investors include TA Associates, The Carlyle Group, and 22C Capital.

Redefining the D-U-N-S Number

Dun & Bradstreet is looking to modernize its D-U-N-S Numbering system to support digital businesses which may not have a phone number or physical location.  D-U-N-S Numbers, which are the de facto global company numbering system, were developed by Dun & Bradstreet in 1963 and have long captured business locations including headquarters, subsidiaries, and branches along with firmographics and corporate linkage.  Currently, there are over 300 million D-U-N-S numbered active and inactive global businesses.  But this model fails to capture the emerging nature of digital businesses and the gig economy.  The expanded definition will shift from location to “point of commerce.”

“You can be a digital business.  You can be a business that is a two-person startup right out of a coffee shop and you’re accepting PayPal as your form of payment.  That doesn’t require a physical address anymore.  You could be part of the gig economy.  You can be an Uber driver.  You can have an Airbnb property.  Those don’t necessarily fit under the mold of traditional businesses,” said Saleem Khan, Digital Leader of Data Innovation at Dun & Bradstreet.

“That idea of point of commerce subsumes everything.  It subsumes the digital location.  It includes things like the Internet of Things and the gig economy as well.


Saleem Khan, Dun & Bradstreet, Leader of Data Innovation

The rise of the Internet of Things also calls for a broader definition of businesses to assist with master data management and business linkage.

“There are 11.2 billion Internet connected devices out there, half of which are doing B2B commerce,” said Khan.  “It’s a ship coming into a port and being scanned automatically.  Wouldn’t it be nice to know which businesses are tied to that particular Internet connected device?  And so, with respect to the D-U-N-S Number, what we’re doing is moving away from business at a physical location in favor of business at a point of commerce.” An expanded definition also benefits government agencies and financial services companies which often require D-U-N-S Numbers for business verification (e.g. anti-money laundering, know your customer), sub-contracting, and credit and supplier risk analyses.

Consolidation in the Sales Intelligence Space

While yesterday I discussed consolidation in the technology sales intelligence space, there has been significant consolidation over the past twenty-one months in the broader sales and marketing intelligence space.

Amongst the key transactions in 2017 and 2018:

While the industry is growing rapidly, several services are being shuttered including Data.com (Salesforce), Hoovers (migrating clients to D&B Hoovers), and Unomy (WeWork).

Tim Baskerville, Chairman of Rhetorik Global, noted that the consolidation dance is likely to continue:

“These days in the data/AI space It’s something like a high school dance. Players on the main dance floor are strutting to prove they’re attractive acquirers, whether it’s a football hero preening in front of envious fans or a second-string guy trying to lure a niche player who has a valuable point solution. The musical chairs game is underway, and everybody except the most nimble fear they’ll be left without a chair when the music stops. The catchword is “scale,” and not many have it. The deals announced recently are a tiny fraction of what’s being discussed out there, and both the money people and the operators are scrambling to figure out who is predator and who is prey. Some will be both. Check back in 24 months and our world will look very different.”

Next week I’ll be discussing the two Technology Sales Intelligence deals (Zoominfo acquiring Datanyze and HG Data acquiring Pivotal iQ).