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

Technology Training Trends

LinkedIn Learning course catalog
LinkedIn Learning course catalog

LinkedIn told CNBC that the top three tech skills in demand are artificial intelligence, big data, and cloud computing.  However, they noted that many technology skills have a market value of only six years, so soft skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving should also be honed.  In order for workers to keep up, they should avail themselves of courses from LinkedIn Learning or Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

“It’s important for companies to continue to invest in their people so that they are upskilling and reskilling their people to keep up with the roles that are in demand,” said Feon Ang, LinkedIn Vice President for Talent and Learning Solutions, Asia Pacific.  “But, at the same time, people need to continue to invest in themselves and have a growth mindset,” said Ang.

At last month’s Tenbound Conference Mark Dean, Head of Sales Development-Americas for LinkedIn, noted that soft skills are becoming increasingly critical for employees.  LinkedIn research found that 57% of leaders weighed soft skills over hard skills.  In demand skills include creativity, persuasion, and collaboration.  In short, he asked, “Can they tell a story?”

“In the age of continuous change, global competition, and the use of AI, the employees who will become leaders and visionaries are the ones who can communicate effectively and create connection within the organization.  It is only when employees have a sense of shared purpose and connection that they will do what it takes to help the organization succeed.  The best way to build this connection is through authenticity, vulnerability, and storytelling.  Soft, human-focused skills are the currency of the future.  Employees need to take it upon themselves to grow and learn on a continual basis, whether it’s finding a mentor or continually investing in their growth to hone these skills.”  

Lynne Levy of Arena Consulting

For Salesforce skills, there is Trailhead which the firm promotes at both public forums and on earnings calls.

LinkedIn Network Building

I’ve been sitting on a Harvard Business Review article written by Doug Camplejohn since March due to a surfeit of news.  I figured that if I couldn’t slip it into my blog in August, I would never get to it.  August is when the press releases slow and there is an opportunity to speak about broader topics such as how to write a press release (or not write one).

The piece, titled “The Best Ways to Use Social Media to Expand Your Network” provides a set of social networking recommendations to business professionals.  Camplejohn is VP of Product Management at LinkedIn and heads up development on LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

Source: LinkedIn and HBR

Camplejohn’s advice takes a long-run strategic approach to building and nurturing a social network based upon ongoing engagement, asking for advice during transitions, and assisting others.  As such, his advice dovetails well with real-world approaches to building relationship networks.

Camplejohn begins by recommending that business professionals build their network with peers instead of focusing on seniority.  A peer-based network grows over one’s career, creating a network which matures with the professional.  Furthermore, senior-executive response rates are lower than mid-level managers.  Less than one percent of VPs and CxOs respond to cold reach out.

“People earlier in their careers respond most often to an initial message, while VPs and C-level professionals respond the least to people they don’t already know.”

Doug Camplejohn, VP of Product Management at LinkedIn

Initial messages should be short.  Camplejohn recommends three sentences that can be easily read on a mobile device.  InMail messages of under 100 words work best with response rates “decreasing significantly” beyond 500 words.

Camplejohn also advises a hook such as an alma mater, joint interest, or a mutual friend.  “According to our research, referencing a mutual connection boosts the acceptance rate of these messages by 51%, second only to attending the same school at the same time (53%),” wrote Camplejohn.

Camplejohn notes the value of asking for advice and leveraging transitions.  In fundraising, there is an adage, “If you go seeking advice, you get money; if you seek money, you get advice.”  Likewise, transition periods are an excellent opportunity to build your network and seek advice.

“If you’re in a transitional period — starting at a new company, switching industries, or moving to a new city — recognize the opportunity to reach out to people, ask for their advice, and absorb their wisdom.”

Doug Camplejohn, VP of Product Management at LinkedIn

Another recommendation is to pay it forward.  Don’t be looking for immediate benefits or strictly reciprocal opportunities.  Social networkers recognize that they are contributing to the commons, whether helping one person or adding to the group.  Sales reps and others should also continue to nurture their network, maintaining conversations with colleagues, clients, partners, and mentors.

“The best way to build a relationship is to help someone with joy and with no expectation of anything in return.  It feels good, it trains your own sense of generosity, and it informs you of what the other person values.  It also sets the stage for you to ask them something in the future.  You don’t have to offer to help in every circumstance, but make yourself available as a resource to people, particularly to people who are just starting out in their careers.”

Camplejohn concludes that online networking should be viewed as an extension of real-world interactions: “Connect with people personally by finding common ground, then build trust and long-term relationships, rather than one-time transactions.”

Quora: What CRMs integrate with LinkedIn messages to help me manage recruiting and sales?

I’m not an expert on the recruitment side, but on the sales side there is an integrated Dynamics / LinkedIn Sales Navigator solution called Relationship Sales. The service displays company and contact intelligence across Account, Contact, Lead, and Opportunity records. Insight features include icebreakers, TeamLink introductions, Lead Recommendations, and LinkedIn intelligence. Daily synchronization ensures that active accounts and contacts are shared between the services and that Sales Navigator activities (e.g. InMails, messages, notes, tags, and call logs) are uploaded to Dynamics 365.

LinkedIn also offers a set of SNAP connectors which provide view only company and contact profiles integrated into CRM, Sales Engagement, and other platforms. Supported CRMs include HubSpot, Inform, Microsoft, Oracle Sales Cloud, Pega, Salesforce, SAP, SugarCRM, and Zoho.

SNAP requires licensing Sales Navigator Team along with the CRM.

SNAP offers a core set of features for CRM:

  • View LinkedIn profiles within Account, Contact, and Lead profiles
LinkedIn Contact Profile within Salesforce.
  • Icebreakers such as Recent Activity and Shared Connections
LinkedIn Recent Activity and Shared Connections within Salesforce
  • TeamLink connections which leverage co-worker LinkedIn networks.
  • InMails (LinkedIn’s email service which hides the email of the recipient).
  • Recommended Leads
  • Syncing of engagement activity (e.g. InMails, Notes, Messages, Phone Calls) between the CRM and LinkedIn.
  • Download Account, Contact, Lead, and Opportunity intelligence from the CRM to LinkedIn for Account and Lead List Building.
  • A single-pane pipeline view for maintaining Opportunity data and constructing Buyers Circles (Buying Committee members). An intriguing feature which is only available in Dynamics and Salesforce.
LinkedIn Deals View provides a single pane view for editing Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics Opportunities and Buying Circles.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is an excellent offering with one major limitation — member data cannot be synced with the CRM. This means that it is view only within SNAP and must be re-keyed. It also means that there is no ongoing enrichment of accounts, contacts, and leads. As such, a B2B hygiene service should also be evaluated (e.g. D&B Optimizer, RingLead, ReachForce, InsideView, DiscoverOrg / Zoominfo).

LinkedIn Sales Navigator Q2 2019 (Part III) – Org Charts & Lists

The new org chart SNAP connector for MS Dynamics provides rich biographic information for executives.
The new org chart SNAP connector for MS Dynamics provides rich biographic information for executives.

I’ve been covering Q2 enhancements to LinkedIn Sales Navigator this week. On Monday, I discussed their Sales Coach enhancements and on Wednesday their Alerting enhancements. There were also a set of communications enhancements to Sales Navigator (an area of strength vs. other Sales Intelligence offerings). Communication enhancements include conversation histories, improved filtering, more visible icebreakers, and InMail credit status.

Improved Sales Navigator Keyword Searching

Keyword searching speed has been improved and a guided search experience helps the user expand or narrow the search term (see image on left).

Sales Navigator custom lists were introduced last year and nearly one million have been created.  More than half of saved leads have been added to custom lists.  

Two new list features were added in Q2:

  • Bulk save and bulk remove accounts and contacts from lists.
  • Match Lead to Account – As not all leads (people) are attached to accounts, the match feature allows users to assign leads to any company for alerting purposes.

A live org chart integration is being introduced For Microsoft Dynamics which supports saved accounts.  The functionality is being delivered through LinkedIn SNAP.

The chart displays LinkedIn member profile photos and additional profile details which provide additional insights into the account.

During Q2, Lucidchart also became a SNAP partner.  Lucidchart users can now view lead recommendations, save leads to Sales Navigator, view contact profiles and updates, request introductions, and send InMails from within Lucidchart.

“Sales teams work faster and smarter when they work visually.  Bringing the power of the world’s largest professional online network into Lucidchart in a more seamless way underscores our ongoing commitment to enhance the sales experience.”

Lucidchart CEO Karl Sun

Note: This is the final chapter on the Q2 2019 LinkedIn Sales Navigator release. Part 1 | Part II

LinkedIn Adjusts its Feed Algorithm

The LinkedIn feed algorithm has been adjusted to emphasize conversations of interest over viral content.

LinkedIn recently adjusted its feed algorithm to identify more salient topics instead of viral content.  The goal is to encourage conversations and promote niche conversations over broad topics.  The modifications place a higher premium on member interest signals.

“Our mission is to help people be more productive and successful, and it is what drives us daily,” said Senior Director of Product Management Pete Davies.  “We strongly believe that people need their professional communities to help them along the way, whether that’s current or former colleagues, peers in the same industry, or those that share similar interests or career ambitions.”

LinkedIn prioritizes posts from connections and follows along with their likes, comments, and posts.  Other factors include group posts, followed hashtags, and events “all with the goal of showing you the content and conversations that you care about.”  Prioritization is given to direct interactions; stated interests and experiences; and “explicit signals” such as with whom you’ve worked.

Davies provided the following tips to encourage conversation:

  • Post things that encourage a response. For example, if you’re posting a link, express an opinion with it.
  • Think about using the best type of post for the topic. Despite the rumors, the algorithm doesn’t favor any particular format. We have video, images, multi-images, text and long-form articles. More are on the way.
  • Use @mentions to pull other people you know into a conversation when you think they’ll have something valuable to add. Be thoughtful: only mention people that you think are likely to respond, max five is a good rule of thumb.
  • Engage in the conversation, respond to commenters and encourage back and forth.

Davies also recommended the use of hashtags, but no more than three.  Hashtags should be specific vs. general (#performancemanagement vs. #management).

Finally, Davies emphasized authenticity.  This is a theme that Kyle Porter, CEO of SalesLoft, keeps going back to.

“Authenticity is key: all the tips above work out better when members talk about things they truly care about, in a way that’s natural for them. Genuine conversation around real experiences spark better and deeper conversation. Better conversation, in turn, leads to stronger community and connection,” blogged Davies.

Quora: Does LinkedIn Sell Your Info?

The following is a Quora post answering the question, “Does LinkedIn Sell Your Info?”


This is likely to fall into a semantics question. If data is employed in the aggregate and your personally identifiable information is not disclosed, then I would argue that your information is not sold. Likewise, if you are presented an ad because your LinkedIn profile conforms with a target audience definition, your data is also not being sold.

I can’t answer for LinkedIn Recruiter, but can answer in the Sales and Marketing context.

LinkedIn offers a sales product called Sales Navigator. Users can view company and contact information on Navigator just as they can on the free service. It even supports viewing this data within third-party SNAP products. However, Navigator and SNAP are view only. Sales reps cannot download your profile or sync it with any of their partner platforms. They also restrict display of your email and phone information to your direct connects as well as other content you flag as restricted.

LinkedIn Marketing sells advertising on LinkedIn and Bing based upon your profile attributes. Advertisers define their target audience across a broad set of firmographic, career, and location variables, but these segments are not provided directly to the marketer. Instead, they are used for advertising display. Thus, your data isn’t sold, just your eyeballs.

LinkedIn treats its member’s data with respect. Microsoft, its parent company, has called for a US version of GDPR, the European data privacy standard. CEO Satya Nadella stated that “privacy is a fundamental human right” on an April 2018 earnings call and said that the firm has implemented an “end-to-end privacy architecture” which is GDPR compliant.

The LinkedIn SNAP AppExchange connector displays LinkedIn content and functionality within Salesforce, but does not sync any company or contact data with SFDC.
The LinkedIn SNAP AppExchange connector displays LinkedIn content and functionality within Salesforce, but does not sync any company or contact data with SFDC.

LinkedIn Q4 Sales Navigator

Sales Navigator now supports custom Account and Lead lists.
Sales Navigator now supports custom Account and Lead lists.

LinkedIn rolled out its Q4 Sales Navigator release in November, but I failed to blog about it.  (Q1 will be covered next week in this blog.) The release contains several nascent initiatives including custom lists and the collection of “Reports To” data to assist with organizational mapping.  Other feature sets include three new alerts, an improved accounts center, PointDrive activity logging, and additional SNAP connectors.

LinkedIn is beginning to collect data around who reports to whom.  As sales reps or others learn about reporting relationships, they can add them to executive profiles.  The data is then shared across the LinkedIn contract with co-workers but not more broadly.  Following after last quarter’s support of buying committees, it is evident that LinkedIn is looking to infuse additional project and reporting relationships within Sales Navigator.

“We’re laying the foundation for full-blown org charts by adding a new “Reports To” field on the Lead Page,” blogged Head of Products for LinkedIn Sales Solutions Doug Camplejohn.  “Once you learn who someone’s manager is, you can add that info to their page by searching for a name or browsing our recommendations.  Any additions you or your colleagues make will only appear to those in your company’s Sales Navigator contract. So, the next time you or a team member looks that lead up, you’ll see who they report to, who added that connection, and a reporting history.”

An unlimited number of custom lists of accounts or leads may be built within the LinkedIn desktop or mobile app. Users may post notes on saved leads or accounts and filter the lists by people who have changed jobs in the last 90 days, people who have posted on LinkedIn in the past 30 days, companies who have had senior leadership changes in the past 3 months, etc.

LinkedIn does not yet support custom list uploading. Custom Sharing is part of the Q1 release.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator added three new alerts
LinkedIn Sales Navigator added three new alerts

LinkedIn added three new alerts:

  1. Someone at a saved account viewed your profile
  2. A saved account has just raised funding
  3. A saved lead has engaged with LinkedIn posts from your company

which accompany six current alerts:

  1. A saved lead started a position at a new company
  2. A saved lead has a new position within the same company
  3. A saved lead viewed your profile
  4. A potential lead recently joined a saved account
  5. A saved lead has accepted your connection request
  6. A saved lead was mentioned in the news

Alerts are now included in the main menu bar of both the desktop and mobile editions.  Camplejohn noted that LinkedIn has improved the “signal-to-noise ratio” of its alerts.

“Think of our Alerts as a trusted sales advisor tapping you on the shoulder with information about your saved leads and accounts when it’s most important and relevant to you,” said Camplejohn.

LinkedIn has simplified its admin experience and “made it much easier to do tasks from assigning users to managing groups.”  LinkedIn also unified its administration module across Sales Navigator, LinkedIn Learning, and LinkedIn Recruiter.

Advanced Searching was added to the Sales Navigator mobile app, bringing it to list building parity with the desktop application.  Earlier this year, LinkedIn enhanced its company and lead profiles, also bringing them to parity with the desktop application.

“LinkedIn’s recent updates to its Sales Navigator management tool makes it a more robust platform for sales teams.  More importantly, the moves to bring more of its desktop features to the mobile app are evidence that LinkedIn finally understands how crucial a mobile experience is when designing a sales tool focused on lead management.”


Amy Gesenhues, MarTech Today

PointDrive, Sales Navigator’s multi-media sharing application, will begin writing activity history back to Microsoft Dynamics.  Salesforce PointDrive sync will come in 2019.  PointDrive presents documents and video to end users as a landing page and tracks views and shares.

“Now when you send that pricing proposal to a prospect in PointDrive and members of the buying committee engage with it, you’ll be able to see that activity in both Sales Navigator and your CRM,” blogged Camplejohn.

LinkedIn continues to expand its SNAP partnerships, adding Zoom as their first web conferencing partner.  Users can now hover over an attendee name and view Sales Navigator intelligence including their profile photo, title, and common connections.  

The Zoom LinkedIn SNAP integration provides meeting attendee insights and connections from within Zoom.
The Zoom LinkedIn SNAP integration provides meeting attendee insights and connections from within Zoom.

Four vendors launched v2 SNAP integrations which provide broader access to Sales Navigator actions:

  1. Yesware (Email Engagement)
  2. Leadfeeder (Visitor ID Analytics)
  3. Groove (Sales Engagement)
  4. Outreach (Sales Engagement)

SalesLoft, Salesforce, and Microsoft Dynamics previously released V2 SNAP integrations.

In the Salesforce Winter Lightning release, admins will be able to configure Sales Navigator and add support for Person accounts without having to go to the AppExchange.

This year, Sales Navigator focused on improved functionality and display for accounts, leads, and list building in their mobile and desktop applications; SNAP integrations; GDPR compliance and security; CRM opportunity management and buyers circles; alerting; employment analytics; and PointDrive CRM integration.  Details on earlier releases are available in my blog: Q1, Q2, Q3.

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.

Oracle Acquires DataFox

Oracle recently acquired DataFox, providing them with access to 2.8 million company profiles, including funding and M&A data.  DataFox “gives customers real-time insight to know when a business exhibits noteworthy behaviors.”

“The combination of Oracle and DataFox will enhance Oracle Cloud Applications with an extensive set of trusted company-level data and signals, enabling customers to reach even better decisions and business outcomes,” wrote Oracle’s EVP of Applications Development Steve Miranda to customers and partners.

Oracle provides the following deal shorthand:

Oracle Cloud Applications + DataFox = Even Smarter Decisions

DataFox is growing its database at 1.2 million companies annually.  The database will deliver real-time insights into its cloud-based ERP, CX, HCM and SCM platforms.

DataFox Data Engine Overview (Oracle Presentation, October 23, 2018)
DataFox Data Engine Overview (Oracle Presentation, October 23, 2018)

In a bit of extreme puffery, Oracle described DataFox as the “the most current, precise and expansive set of company-level information and insightful data.”  Bureau van Dijk and Dun & Bradstreet have 50X the active company coverage including detailed global linkage, risk models, and multi-year financial data.  Bureau van Dijk also offers the Zephyr database, an M&A and funding dataset with over twenty years of closed, pending, and rumored deals.  Where DataFox may have an advantage is in their focus on mid-size and emerging companies which have been recently funded, but this is a small subset of the company universe.

DataFox will continue to sell and support its products.  However, the DataFox roadmap and product line are fluid:

“Oracle is currently reviewing the existing DataFox product roadmap and will be providing guidance to customers in accordance with Oracle’s standard product communication policies. Any resulting features and timing of release of such features as determined by Oracle’s review of DataFox’s product roadmap are at the sole discretion of Oracle. All product roadmap information, whether communicated by DataFox or by Oracle, does not represent a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions. It is intended for information purposes only, and may not be incorporated into any contract.”

Along with AI insights, Oracle called out the needs for quality data to back data maintenance, artificial intelligence, and business signals.

Customer Data Challenges (Oracle Presentation, October 23, 2018)
Customer Data Challenges (Oracle Presentation, October 23, 2018)

DataFox has over 275 customers including Goldman Sachs, Bain & Company, Outreach, Live Ramp, and Twilio.

DataFox raised $19 million in funding.  Terms of the deal were not disclosed.  In January 2017, DataFox was valued at $33 million by Pitchbook.

Oracle should study Salesforce’s acquisition of Jigsaw (later renamed Data.com) as a cautionary tale.  Software companies struggle in selling data files as company and contact data decays rapidly and it is difficult to push data quality above 90% absent large editorial investments.  Furthermore, Jigsaw never represented more than 1% of Salesforce revenue so quickly fell off of the company’s internal radar.  The firm is now looking to decommission Data.com and asking its AppExchange partners to fill the sales intelligence and data hygiene gap left in its absence.  Coincidentally, DataFox is one of Salesforce’s Lightning Data partners.

On the positive side, LinkedIn hit $1.3 billion last quarter and has thrived under Microsoft’s ownership.  However, LinkedIn was a much more mature company at acquisition than DataFox with multiple revenue streams and a unique user generated content model.  Microsoft has provided LinkedIn with development capital and allowed it to maintain its independence.  It has also looked to leverage LinkedIn and Microsoft strengths when building sales and marketing products, instead of simply copying other vendors.  For example, Sales Navigator continues to respect the privacy of its members while using aggregated data to provide hiring and employment insights that other companies cannot deliver.  Navigator has also added strong messaging tools (chat, InMail, and PointDrive) which work around its lack of company emails.  Other innovations include SNAP workflow connectors, its new Pipeline CRM updating tool, and Buyer’s Circle for identifying the buying committee at large firms.