Quora: How do I find a company’s top competitors?

The following is a post I wrote on Quora.


There are a couple of ways.

  • If a US public company, look at its 10-K (annual report). Firms generally discuss their competitors. You can locate the 10-K on a company’s investor site, through sales intelligence vendors, or free Edgar sites.
  • If a private company, look at Owler, a free site (See below). This is crowdsourced so may include firms that aren’t true competitors.
Owler competitor lists are gathered through social voting.
  • Look at sales intelligence services such as D&B Hoovers or InsideView. Hoover’s competitors are editorially generated and include top three flags (see below)
D&B Hoover’s competitor lists are gathered by a team of researchers.
  • Within IT, look at Forrester Wave reports. Another option is technology category searches in PE/VC databases such as DataFox, Crunchbase, Pitchbook, or CB Insights. Keep in mind that companies within the same segment may not be competitors, but partners, customers, etc.
  • Many industries have industry specific market research that includes competitors. A few general market research firms also provide competitors (e.g. MarketLine, Euromonitor, Global Data, and Freedonia). Top Competitors are also available in IBISWorld, Vertical IQ, and First Research.
  • Zoominfo and a few other vendors identify similar companies based upon proximity in articles. This finds competitors, but also customers and partners so should be carefully reviewed.
  • For new technologies or industries, D&B Hoovers offers Conceptual Search which identify companies associated with key phrases (e.g. Marcellus Shale, Obamacare). This is more of an associated companies list and will identify firms in a topical ecosystem. For example, “Harry Potter” identifies studios, publishers, toy makers, theme parks, and thematic tours. (See example below of conceptual search on Marcellus Shale). Conceptual Search lists may be refined by standard prospecting filters such as industry, geography, and size.
D&B Hoover’s Conceptual Search looks for companies associated with specific phrases.
  • If none of these work, use peer list searches (industry code lists) or keyword searches in sales intelligence vendors.

RelPro Adds Crunchbase Intelligence

The New RelPro Finance tab includes a stock chart, funding data, IPO intelligence, finance news, and investors.
The New RelPro Finance tab includes a stock chart, funding data, IPO intelligence, finance news, and investors.

Relationship Intelligence vendor RelPro added Crunchbase funding, firmographics, and news content to its service, providing customers with greater insights on fast growing small and mid-size companies.  RelPro focuses on B2B business development across marketing, sales, relationship management, and research.

“RelPro users are looking for smarter, more efficient ways to build relationships with fast-growing companies,” said RelPro CEO Martin Wise. “By adding Crunchbase data to the RelPro platform our customers will save time, they will gain additional analytics to identify new company prospects, and they will benefit from new research insights to help them develop informed relationships and turn those prospects into clients.”

The new content set provides additional company intelligence, analytics, and filters.  RelPro profiles seven million companies and 150 million business decision makers.  Other content partners include BoardEx, Dun & Bradstreet, ZoomInfo, and HG Data.

The Crunchbase dataset supports new filters include Funding Round and Funding Total Amount.  RelPro also added a new finance tab to company profiles.

“As Crunchbase builds its overall partner network, the combination of our business intelligence with RelPro’s platform will provide value to their clients and increase the reach of Crunchbase’s premium data, getting that valuable information in front of the people who need it most.”


Nealesh Patel, Head of Business Development and Sales for Crunchbase.

RelPro hinted at additional analytics and data partner announcements in 2019.  One feature in development is a “look-a-like” companies list to assist with business development.

RelPro more than doubled its subscription revenues in 2018.

Owler Pro

Owler promises 60 second access to the platform with one-click Salesforce permissioning.
Owler promises 60 second access to the platform with one-click Salesforce permissioning.

Sales and competitive intelligence vendor Owler is readying to launch Owler Pro, its first end-user premium service.  Pro reads the open Leads, Accounts, and Opportunities in Salesforce and begins delivering automated alerts to sales reps.  Owler Pro supports single-click sign-on so no Salesforce admin support is required.  The service is currently in beta test and includes a redesign of their Instant Insights email alert design.

“In short, it’s an ad-free, streamlined way for Saleforce.com users to automatically sync their active opportunities with Owler, and auto-follow those companies on Owler. So, a sales person’s Daily Snapshot will always be relevant to the deals they are currently working on.”


Owler CEO Tim Harsch

The service is designed for sales reps, but Owler plans to support competitive intelligence analysts, marketing professionals, and senior level executives in the future.

Owler Pro, which is expected to launch in mid to late February, is priced at $12.99 per month or $119.88 annually.  During the beta, users receive one free month, but they are undecided on whether that offer will continue following general user rollout.

The premium service also alerts on a broader set of topics.  While the free version focuses on M&A activity, funding events, and exec changes, the Pro edition adds an additional dozen triggers:

  • Product Launches
  • Joint Ventures
  • Partnerships
  • Awards
  • New Offices
  • IPO Announcements (a precursor to the closing of the actual funding)
  • Record Earnings
  • Earnings Announcements
  • Restructuring
  • Key Employee Departures
  • Key Employee Hires (in addition to primary leadership which are included in the free version)
  • Layoffs

According Harsch, the goal is to “arm sales reps with sales triggers.”

Owler also recently rolled out a Lightning Data solution which performs a monthly match and append against Salesforce Accounts.  36 fields are supported including the top three competitors and social media links.  The service is priced at $25 per user per month for all users in the instance.

The Lightning Data solution includes a free self-assessment report which analyzes Owler’s match and append rate against Salesforce Accounts and includes segmentation data.

Owler has 2 ½ million active users, up from 1.1 million a year ago.  Nearly half of users are located in the Sales or Marketing department and forty percent are directors or above.  An additional 17% describe themselves as Analysts, Consultants, or Specialists.

Owler user base demographics
Owler user base demographics

Owler is also available through its API partners including CrunchBase, SalesLoft, SugarCRM, and Salesforce Lightning Data.

Owler collects data on over 11 million companies including four million full profiles.

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.

InsideView Insights for Microsoft Dynamics

InsideView Insights combines company intelligence, news, and connections in its Overview tab.
InsideView Insights combines company intelligence, news, and connections in its Overview tab.

Microsoft announced that InsideView Insights, it’s OEM integration for Microsoft Dynamics, will no longer be available as a free service.  Current users will continue to receive the integrated sales solution through August 15th at no charge. Customers may continue to use Insights, without disruption, simply by signing a license agreement directly with InsideView.  To expedite the contracting process, InsideView is offering early bird pricing as low as $16 per user per month through the end of March.  Licensors would then begin paying for the service after the August deadline.  New user bundles are initially available for $399 per month for up to ten seats.  After March 31, the new user bundle price rises to $499 per month for up to ten seats.

c“Our goal is to make it easy to switch,” said VP of Global Alliances, Heidi Tucker.  “All they [customers] have to do is make a decision, there’s no need to reinstall the software.”

Insights is a fully featured sales intelligence service delivered as a native application within Dynamics 365.  It is equivalent to InsideView for Sales and available on AppSource.  Key features include

  • Build-a-list Account and Contact prospecting
  • Integrated viewing of Account, Contact, and Lead records
  • “Stare and compare” record updates and “add contact” to CRM
  • Account profiles with family tree hierarchies, competitors, SEC filings, and income statements
  • Industry profiles
  • Alerting and watchlists (daily opportunity alerts)
  • Mobile support
  • Connections (six degrees tool)

InsideView VP of Product and Solution Marketing Joe Andrews described the six-year Microsoft relationship as a “long, fruitful OEM partnership” which resulted in more than 2,000 joint customers and more than 100,000 users.

“We are actively transitioning customers to a direct relationship and making sure they have no disruption for their sellers,” said InsideView CMO Tracy Eiler.  “The product experience is the same; this is a licensing change where now they will contract directly with InsideView. We’re set up to help them with on-boarding new users and continuing to make current users successful.”

Once customers transition to an InsideView license, they will be assigned a Customer Success Manager and have improved access to training programs.  A direct license also improves InsideView’s ability to cross-sell its DaaS and Marketing Services including Apex (ICP/TAM), Refresh (Automated Data Hygiene), Enrich (Real-Time Match & Append), and Target (Prospecting).

According to InsideView, continuing to license Insights is seamless, with customers simply needing to sign a contract directly with InsideView  “InsideView Insights looks and acts like the Insights you’re familiar with and comes with InsideView’s excellent customer support,” wrote the firm in an FAQ.  “When you switch to a direct license, you will not notice any change and all your data, watchlists, and previous preferences will remain the same.“

While OEM deals provide a set of new customers and income, they often leave the OEM partner disintermediated.  The platform maintains the relationship with the end users and it is more difficult to conduct user research, provide training, support users, or improve the workflow and user experience.

With Insights no longer holding a preferred position within Dynamics, customers must choose whether to license Insights or transition to competitive offerings from LinkedIn (a Microsoft subsidiary), Dun & Bradstreet, Zoominfo, DiscoverOrg, or other partners.

InsideView described LinkedIn Sales Navigator as a complementary service.  Sales Navigator is part of the Relationship Sales bundle for Microsoft Dynamics.  InsideView listed the following reasons to license Insights alongside Relationship Sales:

  • Deeper account research and has broader account coverage
  • Find and research executives who are not on LinkedIn
  • Access a broader connections network that includes LinkedIn, email contacts, partners, alumni, work colleagues, and other social networks all in one place
  • Find direct email addresses
  • Add company and contact data to Dynamics 365
  • Update your CRM accounts and contacts for higher data quality
  • Keeps users in CRM to boost usage
  • Minimizes extra training – fully integrated into Dynamics with an intuitive user experience

InsideView did not provide a reason for the end of the OEM deal, but it is likely due to Microsoft looking to expand the number of partner solutions it offers including its own LinkedIn SNAP integration.  When the OEM deal was originally signed, Dynamics CRM had a smaller market share and fewer partners.  Since then, Microsoft has been the second fastest growing CRM behind Salesforce and has added most of the key sales intelligence and B2B DaaS vendors as partners.

ISI Emerging Markets

EMIS Professional Dashboard
EMIS Professional Dashboard

EMIS, a research service for emerging markets, was sold by Euromonitor Institutional Investor to CITIC Capital and Chinese media company Caixin Global back in April. CITIC is an alternative investment management and advisory company.  Also included in the sale was CEIC data, a provider of global time series data.  The two businesses, jointly named ISI Emerging Markets, have been run in parallel and will continue to do so, but sales operations have been merged.  Sales continues to be organized regionally, and some product specialization will be retained.

ISI is headquartered in Hong Kong with offices in eighteen countries.  The firm has over 500 employees located in both emerging and developed countries.  The two firms reported an operating profit of £11.9 million ($15.1 million), as disclosed in the notes to Euromoney’s 2017 annual accounts.  The firms reported 2016 revenue of about $52.7 million and EBITDA of $14.5 million.  Based on 2016 turnover and the $180.5 million purchase price, the deal had a 3.4 multiple.

EMIS delivers news, research, analytical data, and peer comparisons for over 125 emerging markets.  The content is multi-lingual and serves researchers, industry analysts, corporate strategists, credit analysts, and business development professionals.  Customers are found in corporate and investment banking, consultancies, private equity, government, and academia.

EMIS displays news and research from 7,000 publications and 3.6 million emerging market company profiles, two million of which include financials.  Industry sources include BMI Research, Technavio, MarketLine, Mintel, and Euromonitor.  Sixteen languages are supported for content and UI along with cross-translations between the languages.

The products have regional strengths. CEIC began with a Chinese focus twenty-five years ago and is strongest in Asia.  EMIS began in Eastern Europe, but now generates half of its revenue in the Americas.  Asia now represents 25% of its revenue with India its fastest growing market.

Chief Product Officer Diego Obere said that “the majority of our employees are based in emerging markets, allowing us to establish an unrivalled level of expertise on these often opaque countries.” The firm’s “focus [is] on providing our clients with information on countries that are classed as emerging markets. Over 90% of our 5,000+ content sources are from emerging markets”.

The product roadmap includes an improved EMIS UX, upgraded industry pages, and investments in improved mobile and API access.

Channel-wise, EMIS partnered with EBSCO and ProQuest for university distribution.  The firm supports both subscription access and on-demand research purchases.

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.”