Dun & Bradstreet Privatization

Dun & Bradstreet Logo

Dun & Bradstreet completed its privatization Friday morning.  The firm is now controlled by CC Capital, Cannae Holdings, Bilcar, LLC, Black Knight, Inc. and funds affiliated with Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P.  The original offer was tendered on August 8, 2018.

As previously announced, the firm will be led by new CEO Anthony Jabbour and new President Stephen C. Daffron.  William P. Foley II has been named the Executive Chairman of Dun & Bradstreet’s Board of Directors.

The new leadership team indicated that the mission of the firm, “to help our customers improve their business performance through data and insights,” is unchanged.  Likewise, there are no significant changes in direction. “We plan to invest in several key areas to strengthen our core data assets, create high-value analytics, enhance our technological capabilities, and deliver a top-notch customer experience.”

The firm is positioning privatization as a strategic advantage.  “We now have greater flexibility to build a competitive advantage in the vibrant market for data and insights; an edge that we are confident will benefit our customers. Now more than ever, we will have the opportunity to offer solutions to accelerate revenue, reduce cost, manage risk and transform businesses. We plan to invest in several key areas to strengthen our core data assets, create high-value analytics, enhance our technological capabilities, and deliver a top-notch customer experience.”

“For 177 years, our mission has been to help customers leverage data and insights to improve business performance. The next evolution of Dun & Bradstreet’s history will expand the value we bring to our customers around the globe. The journey ahead is a big one for all of us, and the potential, vast. Our executive team and employees around the globe are excited to work with our customers and partners on this next chapter in our iconic brand’s history.”


Dun & Bradstreet Announcement

Dun & Bradstreet was purchased by the investor group for $145 per share ($6.9 billion when including acquired debt of $1.5 billion)

Dun & Bradstreet posted $1.7 billion in 2017 revenue.  The firm employs 4,900 globally and provides risk management (supplier and credit risk) and sales & marketing services. Key product include RMI, D&B Hoovers, D&B Optimizer, and Audience Solutions. Its D-U-N-S Numbering system is the de facto global company numbering system and often required by banks and federal contracting. Other key assets include their global company linkages and the WorldBase file of 300 million active and inactive companies.

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.

Dun & Bradstreet Privatization Receives Final Approval

Update: The transaction officially closed on February 8th.

“ As a private company, Dun & Bradstreet is well positioned to reinvigorate growth and I look forward to partnering with [new CEO] Anthony [Jabbour], [new President] Stephen [C. Daffron] and the Board in my new role. Building on Dun & Bradstreet’s strong platform as a global leader in business insights, I look forward to improving growth and customers’ experience, while increasing operating efficiencies to deliver enhanced business solutions across the world.”


William P. Foley II, Executive Chairman of Dun & Bradstreet’s Board of Directors

Dun & Bradstreet Logo
Dun & Bradstreet Logo

It looks like the Dun & Bradstreet privatization is going better than Theresa May’s Brexit plans.  The UK Financial Conduct Authority approved the sale of Dun & Bradstreet to an investor group led by CC Capital, Cannae Holdings, Bilcar, LLC, Black Knight, Inc. and funds affiliated with Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P.  At this point, all governmental approvals have been granted.

The deal entered a fifteen day debt financing window which ends on February 7th.  The deal is expected to close no later than February 11th.

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.

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.”