Katie Martell, a marketing thought leader and former CMO, reported that she was pitched a deepfake video service that clones faces and voices so that sales reps can “create 1000s of personalized videos in the time it takes to make one.” Of course, the whole idea of these being personalized is ridiculous. Here is how they describe themselves (I have chosen not to publicize the vendor’s name):
“So basically it creates a clone of your face and voice (also known as a deepfake). Allowing you to create 1000s of personalized videos in the time it takes to make one. Which is amazing to see how far technology has come.
The idea is that video is the by far the most personal way of communicating digitally. Putting a face to the 100s of faceless emails we receive each day can be really powerful for improving engagement. As you can imagine this is huge for sales and marketing teams (and newsletters 😄).”
I don’t normally editorialize in my newsletter, but this is a terrible idea. For B2B companies and sales reps, authenticity and honesty are necessary for long-term success. We already know that sales engagement works best when there is a level of personalization matched with authenticity. Spamming the market with fake videos will quickly undermine your credibility. Reps have had success posting short videos with whiteboards that say “hello, <insert first name here>.” They are intended to have low production values but indicate that the rep has invested some time into a quick, personalized message. The point is that they are authentic. SalesLoft data has shown that emails with short videos receive significantly higher clickthrough rates.
One of the variables that investors look at is LTV/CAC. Deception will quickly reduce a firm’s Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), but once it is discovered, their Lifetime Value (LTV) will plummet, and their CAC will explode. It is the sales engagement equivalent of junk food. It will give your company a short-burst of energy but destroy your brand health.
The asynchronous video companies (e.g., Vidyard, Hippo Video, Videolicious) have had great success supporting sales. Their business models would be put at risk by such technology. Instead of videos being a harbinger of authenticity and indicators that the rep has invested time creating a short video, they would become emblems of deception. Likewise, Sales Engagement, MAP, and ABM Platform vendors should refuse to partner with any firms employing deepfakes as they have the potential to undermine ABM communications.
In the end, deepfake marketing will be recognized as SPAM and result in a rapidly dropping email deliverability score. It would be a pyrrhic victory.
Trust is critical for sales reps. Reps that deploy trickery will undermine their ability to sell long-term. They should avoid such deceptions like the plague. None of the deepfake vendor’s customers agreed to be named, an early indicator that trialers of deepfake technology are concerned about brand damage.
And more broadly, we are already having trouble agreeing on objective truth as social media provide custom feeds and recommendations that conform to our existing biases. There have always been problems with how photos and videos were cut or manipulated (e.g., slowing down the video to give a drunken appearance, darkening images of black public figures). Still, deepfakes create false narratives backed by realistic-looking videos that put words in people’s mouths. It is a new form of slander and factual distortion that will continue to undermine trust in the media, government, and social institutions.
The day before Thanksgiving, Zoominfo began the process of filing an IPO in accordance with Rule 135 of the Securities Act. According to the firm, “The initial public offering is expected to commence after the SEC completes its review process, subject to market and other conditions.”
Zoominfo is profitable and has a valuation in excess of $1 billion. The number of shares and offering price have yet to be determined. 2019 revenue is estimated to be around $350 million up approximately $100 million thisyear.
“The paperwork is a draft registration for a common stock offering. The confidential draft filing is a mechanism built into the 2012 Jump-Start Our Business Start-Ups, or JOBS, Act, and was designed to make the IPO process for companies with less than $1 billion in revenue easier. Companies must file information publicly 15 days prior to starting an investor roadshow or the effective date of the registration.”
Zoominfo released the Zoominfo Powered by DiscoverOrg platform in September. The new platform combines the DiscoverOrg technographics, Inside Scoops (sales triggers), editorially verified bios, and top global company profiles with the Zoominfo deep contact data with emails and direct dials. New features include WebSights visitor intelligence and FormComplete web forms.
Last week, Zoominfo released Workflows, their “first data automation tool that streamlines sales and marketing activity and effectiveness by enabling customers to deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right audience.” I will be covering Workflows tomorrow.
Finnish sales intelligence vendor Vainu rebranded earlier this week. The goal was to provide a unified view of the company. Vainu is focused on company intelligence but includes registered contact/director details and mined data. The firm also offers CRM and MAP data enrichment and hygiene services.
sales intelligence databases, Vainu is available in English, Swedish,
Norwegian, Finnish, Dutch, Danish and French. Country datasets include
Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and The Netherlands with detailed financial
data available for Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Beta datasets are
available for France, the UK, and the US with additional countries being
Core UK data
is gathered from Companies House. US data is aggregated from state
I’ve been planning on covering Vainu for the past six months but was waiting for an event. Rebranding is as good a reason any.
launched in 2014 and crowdsourced its initial dog nose logo (Vainu is a Finnish
word for the scent picked up by an animal). The website design and other
branding aspects were inconsistent.
“Everything else was pretty much put together ad hoc after that: color schemes and supporting visuals for our first website layout, stock photos for our first slide decks, different messages to cater to the situations at hand. The end result has been just as fragmented or ad hoc as our strategy: we’ve looked and felt different and sounded different in any situation.”
Mikko Luhtava, Vainu Head of Communications
Now that the
firm has 2,000 customers and 180 employees, they felt it was time to formalize
their brand with a new logo, tagline, and website with real images and black,
white, and yellow text.
that B2B Sales is still stuck in the era of spam emails and cold calling lists.
“While buyers are looking for a real conversation, one where they’re
engaged and understood, salespeople are looking at activity targets and sales
quota, merely treating buyers as numbers,” blogged Luhtava.
firm offers “real-time B2B sales.” It is akin to SalesLoft’s call for
authenticity in sales. “While buyers are looking for a real conversation,
one where they’re engaged and understood, salespeople are looking at activity
targets and sales quota, merely treating buyers as numbers,” stated Luhtava. “At
Vainu, we believe there’s a right way of doing B2B sales—a way that is
personalized, a way that uses data, a way that focuses on the buyer. And
we’ve made it our mission to make salespeople better at their jobs, by bringing
real-time company data to every customer interaction. We call this
supports company list building. Selects include firmographics,
technographics, buying signals (sales triggers), and account intelligence from
the company’s CRM. Trigger alerts cover company announcements, personnel
changes, technology updates, and new additions to a prospect list.
database covers nearly 60 million active companies and includes company
profiles, technology stacks, corporate financials, and recent company news.
can setup data syncing and enrichment with Salesforce, MS Dynamics, HubSpot,
Pipedrive, Upsales, and SuperOffice. Zapier is available for other
platforms. The firm also supports an API.
enriches leads before they are loaded into MAPs assisting with lead scoring and
offers bulk data for data modeling including business registry data, website
information, and open and web-crawled intelligence. Applications include
churn prediction, account scoring, and financial services risk calculations.
begins at €6,600 (£6,000 or $7,250) per year for five
reps plus a one-time onboarding fee of €600 for a single country database. Each
additional country dataset is priced at €3,000. At 25 seats, the service
is priced at €30,600 (£28,000 or $33,650) with a one-time
onboarding fee of €2,100. Each additional country dataset is priced at
€3,000. Nordic financial data adds €2,400.
After DiscoverOrg acquired Zoominfo in February, the firm maintained both brands and announced that a new platform which supported both services would be available this summer. At the time, the assumption was that the Zoominfo brand would be retired and the firm would move forward as DiscoverOrg. After all, DiscoverOrg was the larger of the two firms and the brand was highly associated with data quality, technographics, and rich executive profiles while Zoominfo was known for having the largest set of B2B emails and direct dials spanning companies of all sizes and positions.
commissioned research into both brands and found that Zoominfo had broader
brand awareness. The research also indicated that it would be less
expensive to increase brand equity than brand awareness. Both brands had
their strengths, but, according to Chief Growth Officer Katie Bullard, it was
easier to buy brand perception than brand awareness. Furthermore, research
indicated that the Zoominfo brand perception had improved since acquisition.
was significantly more — three times — the market awareness around the ZoomInfo
brand than the DiscoverOrg brand,” said CEO Henry Schuck. “I’ve tried to
pride myself on making the decision that is right for the business and not
necessarily easy for me or convenient for me. This was obvious.
This was the right decision for the business, and I wasn’t going to let
the nostalgia for the DiscoverOrg brand overshadow that.”
on this research, the firm decided to retain the Zoominfo brand and deploy the
DiscoverOrg brand as a “powered by” brand booster. Thus, the new platform
will be labeled Zoominfo Powered by DiscoverOrg for the next year or two.
“The new platform will be known as ZoomInfo powered by DiscoverOrg and combines the strengths and benefits of the DiscoverOrg platform with those of the ZoomInfo platform, which it acquired in February 2019. Designed to be the single source of B2B data truth for sales and marketing professionals, the new platform offers a suite of software tools coupled with unrivaled data coverage, accuracy and depth. As a result, customers gain a highly actionable 360-degree view of contacts, companies, and opportunities to target and convert. Deeply integrated into both workflows and technology stacks, ZoomInfo powered by DiscoverOrg works seamlessly with all the leading sales, marketing and CRM platforms…”
With this launch, ZoomInfo Powered by DiscoverOrg features an unparalleled combination of proprietary AI and machine learning tools, a vast contributory network, deep two-way business application integrations, and human verification from over 300 researchers. The result is the most unique [sic] and effective SaaS platform designed to empower companies to deliver more predictable and sustainable growth.”
Zoominfo Press Release (September 10, 2019)
firm’s mission is “To create a world where every company has a clear view of
their ideal customers and how to connect with them.”
new Zoominfo logo is black with a standalone Z and a rising arrow.
site is simplified from DiscoverOrg’s last design with white, gray, lavender,
and black as the primary background colors. Red and lavender are employed
for buttons and hyperlinks. Most text is black with white employed for
text in buttons and black backgrounds. The site is much less frenetic
than the last DiscoverOrg design. A splash of lavender and light use of
pastels, which are not often used in B2B websites, provide a calming effect.
new website tagline is “Your business deserves more.” The firm continues,
“ZoomInfo gives you more. We combine the leading business contact
database with best-in-class technology to pinpoint, process, and deliver the
marketing and sales intelligence you need— exactly when and how you need it, to
always hit your number.”
Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) reached $350 million across 13,500 customers. ARR has grown significantly since the Zoominfo acquisition. According to Inc., combined 2018 revenue was $222 million. As ARR is higher than revenue when a subscription service is growing, the likely 2019 revenue is around $300 million+.
Zoominfo also has to reposition its data acquisition model. DiscoverOrg began employing web data acquisition tools last year, so that methodology was already understood by their clients. The firm also has licensed data sets in the past, however sparingly. The new website discusses four methods for data gathering: signature block mining; automated online crawling and machine learning; in-house editorial teams: and third-party data licensing.
block intelligence comes from Zoominfo’s community members that permit access
to signature blocks in exchange for Zoominfo access. It is the most
controversial of their methods as data is being harvested on third-parties
without their consent. While both companies are GDPR compliant,
Zoominfo’s approach was simply to add an EU contact filter. This is an
area that they will likely need to address further, particularly as US states
adopt GDPR-like regulations and Zoominfo expands its “personal contact
learning gathers technographic and firmographic intelligence from job boards,
web sites, news, and SEC filings. It is a standard data gathering method
and broadly employed across the industry.
“We use cutting edge AI/ML technologies to help GTM [go-to-market] teams stay laser-focused on the right markets and best opportunities to hit their number.”
research for gathering and verifying company and contact data has long been at
the core of DiscoverOrg’s brand and value proposition. Zoominfo continues
to maintain the DiscoverOrg editorial team of over 300 researchers. The
editorial process is the basis of their high data quality and rich biographic
and technographic intelligence. As such, it is the justification for
their premium pricing. Hopefully, the firm doesn’t make the mistake that
D&B did after acquiring Hoovers and allowing its editorial capabilities to
atrophy when a high-quality dataset (Hoover’s editorial coverage of 42,000 companies)
was mixed with a much larger universe of companies and contacts (D&B
WorldBase). Given DiscoverOrg’s long-term focus on data quality and
editorial research, it is unlikely that they would make this mistake.
Conversations I’ve had with Schuck and Bullard over the years support
third-party datasets are licensed. Content includes public company data
(long a gap of both services), M&A details (added last year), government
data sources, and social media feeds.
database has grown to 20 million company profiles with 5 million C-level
contacts, 16 million decision maker direct dials, and 20 million decision maker
emails. Globally, Zoominfo provides 66 million emails and 42 million
direct dials. They also maintain departed contact details to assist with
According to the Portland Business Journal, private equity firms TA Associates, The Carlyle Group and 22C Capital have invested at least $790 million in Zoominfo. The PBJ also noted that Zoominfo is profitable.
Technographics vendor HG Data officially rebranded as HG Insights, rolling out a new name, logo, and website. The rebrand coincides with the launch of their new HG Insights platform. They have retained HG (Holy Grail, not mercury) and shifted from being a data company to an insights company, moving up the knowledge pyramid.
Customers are asking them to “help us isolate on tech
insights farther down the funnel,” said VP of Product and Marketing Kineon
Outsell places information value along a five-level pyramid with raw data in the base and smart data (“normalized and standardized, categorized, linked, and indexed”) at level two. HG Data resided at level two with a highly regarded dataset of product / vendor data that was broadly licensed to sales intelligence vendors, customer data platforms, and predictive analytics companies. While a pure data licensing strategy can provide initial funds for a startup, it quickly caps the growth of the organization as much of the potential value add resides in licensor tools and insights, not the smart data. Thus, to continue growing, HG Data began developing customer-facing workflow tools (Outsell’s level three) a few years ago and expanded its content value with the September acquisition of London-based Pivotal IQ, a curator of IT contract and spend intelligence.
IQ acquisition provided HG Data with an “opportunity to redefine what
technographics means and what technographics is” said Walker at the time.
HG Insights is emphasizing ABM targeting and strategic account intelligence:
“HG Insights helps you ignite opportunity. Opportunity that helps your business accelerate growth by providing you with an unprecedented view of the global markets, industries, and companies you sell to. Intelligence that empowers your business to generate more revenue from your Account Based Marketing programs by scoring your accounts and leads to pinpoint the best prospects. Insights that enable you to increase deal sizes by identifying the company profiles with the highest revenue potential. Insights that help you build better account strategy plans so that your sales team can increase win rates and shorten sales cycles. HG Insights delivers strategic account intelligence that allows your business to remove subjectivity from sales territory management and ensure that your team is focused on the best prospects in every market. Insights you can use to gain market share and outperform your competition. Insights you can trust.”
“We wanted to elevate the look and feel of what has become an
extremely sophisticated company,” said Walker. “No one has the quality
technographics that we have, which include the most accurate technology spend
data available in the market. The new on-demand capabilities of our HG
Insights Platform are unmatched by any competitor. Our unique ability to
work proactively with customers to deliver the Holy Grail of business insights
is reflected in our new name, and we’re excited to see our new HG Insights
Platform drive growth for businesses around the world.”
The HG Insights platform covers two million global company
locations with technographics and spending models. Technographic
intelligence spans 10,000 products across 4,500 vendors.
“We’ve always been an inventive company that finds new ways to help customers stay a step ahead. After seeing so many customers use our technology intelligence to make important strategic decisions, we knew it was time to define our company around the unique insights we deliver. Our new HG Insights Platform gives us an incredible opportunity to showcase our depth and expertise to new audiences with a fresh new image.”