Unique Company Identifiers

Amazon Family Tree (Source: D&B Hoovers)
Amazon Family Tree (Source: D&B Hoovers)

Associating company records with a common identifier is critical for Account Based Marketing as well as other sales and marketing methodologies.  Lacking a common identifier makes it difficult to

  • De-duplicate company records
  • Associate subsidiaries and branches with headquarters
  • Perform both real-time and batch data enrichment of firmographic, technographic, and social links.
  • Associate company news and sales triggers to key accounts.
  • Tie together company records across multiple platforms.
  • Assess the risk (e.g. credit, supplier, reputational) associated with a business.

The importance of a “unique identifier” was discussed by Owler CEO Jim Fowler in the Harvard Business Review:

The best way to keep data clean is to use a globally known, unique identifier, or a “data backbone.” My company prefers to use URLs as identifiers. They’re free, globally recognizable, high-quality data points that enable you to efficiently gather information on a business’s industry, online activities, and functionality. For example, Cisco is a company that also goes by Cisco Systems, Inc. and Cisco Precision Tools. If sales containers required users to type in one unique URL, http://www.cisco.com/ for all those different branches, it’d be much more difficult to create duplicate accounts, which helps keep data clean. Perhaps more important, URLs facilitate communication between people, systems, and even departments. Whether it’s the customer relationship management platforms used by sales teams, enterprise resource planning software used by purchasing teams, or the account-based marketing technology employed by marketing teams, the business intelligence platform can recognize a unique URL and attach it to clean, usable data. Unique identifiers let you know you’re pulling from the sources and contacts you’ve intended to track.

I agree with 90% of what Fowler states, but disagree with his recommendation that URLs are the best unique identifier for his “data backbone”.  There are a number of reasons that URLs fall short:

  • URLs are not persistent.  If a company is acquired or renames itself, the old identifier (URL) is not retained.  This creates a potential disconnect between the old and new name.
  • URLs have a many-to-one mapping which treats most subsidiary and branch locations the same as the headquarters.  For some companies, mashing together all locations into a single record may be sufficient, but it is a highly flawed approach as it loses much of the nuance concerning companies that operate across multiple sectors and countries (e.g. General Electric).  It also makes it very difficult for sales reps to sell deeper into an organization which lacks linkage data.
  • Conversely, companies with multiple URLs are not tied together.  This could happen due to differing country identifiers (e.g. .UK, .FR), division names, brand names, and subsidiaries.  Each of these scenarios treats companies as a separate business.  Amazon has many distinct businesses including Amazon Web Services (aws.amazon.com), Zappos (www.zappos.com), Alexa Internet (www.alexa.com) Audible (www.audible.com), Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com), and soon Whole Foods (www.wholefoods.com).  URLs do not provide a consistent data backbone when subsidiaries, acquisitions, and branches have different domains.
  • When a division or facility is divested, there is no way to determine which locations have been spun off.
  • Franchises are treated as part of the parent company when they are separate legal entities.
  • Not all companies have websites.
  • URLs can be sold.  They can also be reused if a company goes out of business or abandons a URL.

Finally, business decisions related to logistics, credit, supplier risk, and financing need to understand the underlying structure of companies.  It is not just marketing and sales that are impacted by standardizing on a non-persistent, quasi-unique identifier.

I would therefore recommend looking at credit data companies as a better source of unique identifiers.  Companies such as Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, Equifax, and Infogroup all offer location level detail and linkage associated with unique identifiers that have been developed over multiple decades.  They offer sophisticated entity matching and enrichment tools such as Dun & Bradstreet’s Optimizer service. Furthermore, these firms support multiple functions across the organization helping assist with cross-platform entity linking and on-demand decisioning.

Mattermark: Dataset Growth and Enhancements

Mattermark rolled out a set of enhancements to their product and content over the past few months.  The PE/VC funding data firm added Revenue Range and Zip Code to company profiles delivered via Mattermark Pro, Mattermark API, and their recently released AppExchange connector.   Mattermark now supports over 80 variables.

The Old Growth Score (Blue) was based upon historical growth data. The New Growth Score (Blue) is limited to the past 12 weeks.
The Old Growth Score (Blue) was based upon historical growth data. The New Growth Score (Blue) is limited to the past 12 weeks.

Mattermark also revised its Growth Score.  Previously, the firm evaluated the Growth Score over the company’s lifetime, which resulted in the ongoing display of Uber, Accenture, Amazon, and Google.  The new model employs a rolling twelve-week score which “better captures the dynamic changes over time,” said Marketing Manager Nick Frost.  “By reducing the span by which we calculate the Growth Score, our customers have a better representation of a company’s activity.”

Mattermark has been actively growing its company database, hitting four million profiles in February.  The firm continues to add missing firmographics.  For example, they added location data for 300K companies and industry tags for 700K companies.  Most profile vendors require these fields prior to publication.

Moody’s Acquires Bureau van Dijk

Moody’s announced this morning that they are acquiring business intelligence vendor Bureau van Dijk for €3.0 billion (approximately $3.27 billion). Moody’s stated that “the acquisition extends Moody’s position as a leader in risk data and analytical insight.”  The deal is subject to EU approval and is expected to close in Q3.

Bureau van Dijk will be acquired with approximately $1.3 billion in offshore cash and $2 billion in debt.  Bureau van Dijk will be folded into Moody’s Analytics’ Research, Data & Analytics (RD&A).

Last year, Bureau van Dijk earned $281 million (€258 million) and posted and EBITDA of $144 million (€132 million).  Bureau van Dijk has a ten-year Compound Average Growth Rate (CAGR ) of 9.3%.  The firm anticipates $45 million of annual revenue and expense synergies by 2019 and $80 million by 2021.

Source: Moody's Investor Site (May 15 2017)
Source: Moody’s Investor Site (May 15 2017)

Bureau van Dijk offers three major product lines:

  • Orbis – Financial analysis tools spanning 220 million companies.  Information includes firmographics, public and private company financials, original documents, global family trees, shareholdings, news, and M&A research (Zephyr).  Orbis provides the deepest set of global private company financial coverage tied to very strong linkage data including minority shareholdings.  Orbis was redesigned last year with a new user interface and workflows.  The Orbis product line is also available as regional and local products such as Amadeus in Europe, Oriana in AsiaPac, and Fame in the UK.
  • Mint – Sales intelligence product line
  • Catalyst – Set of workflow tools for valuation, transfer pricing, credit analysis, wallet sizing, etc.

All three product lines leverage the Orbis global company file which is collected from 160 information partners.

“Bureau van Dijk is a high growth information aggregator and distributor that positions Moody’s at the center of a unique network of global risk data,” said Raymond McDaniel, President and Chief Executive Officer of Moody’s. “This acquisition provides significant opportunities for Moody’s Analytics to offer complementary products, create new risk solutions and extend its reach to new and evolving market segments.”

The Bureau van Dijk customer base is split fairly evenly across 6,000 financial institutions, professional service firms, government authorities, and corporations.  Key use cases include compliance, KYC/AML, risk decisioning, purchasing, transfer pricing, B2B sales and marketing, financial analysis, and economic research.

Source: Moody's Investor Site (May 15 2017)
Source: Moody’s Investor Site (May 15 2017)

Moody’s listed a three-pronged product strategy post-acquisition:

  • Apply MA analytics to data to generate off-the-shelf financial metrics

  • Package BvD data subscriptions with MA analytical software & models

  • Enrich MIS/MA data sets with BvD’s proprietary identifiers

Moody’s will also be looking to extend Bureau van Dijk’s commercial presence beyond Europe and to non-financial customers.  The acquisition helps Moody’s extend its addressable market beyond credit to provide “Moody’s-branded scores/assessments for tax risk, transfer pricing, compliance, financial crime, [and] supply chain management.”

“Moody’s is a highly regarded, authoritative source of credit ratings and analytical tools, with a strong brand and global reach,” said Mark Schwerzel, Deputy CEO of Bureau van Dijk. “The addition of Bureau van Dijk’s powerful information platform to Moody’s Analytics’ suite of risk management solutions presents a wide range of opportunities for us to better serve our combined customer base.”

Bureau van Dijk has been owned by a series of private equity firms with EQT acquiring the firm from Charterhouse Capital Partners in September 2014.  At the time, the sale price was not disclosed.  Charterhouse acquired Bureau van Dijk in 2011 from BC Partners for €960m.

EQT noted the following areas of investment during its ownership period:

  • Development of the organisational structure to prepare for further growth

  • Investments in the sales organization, including the introduction of a matrix sales structure, implementation of a global CRM system, and expansion of the salesforce

  • Strong focus on the development of new products and continued improvement of existing ones, e.g. the launch of a new user interface

  • Substantial investments in marketing and corporate branding

Bureau van Dijk Orbis Enhancements

Saved Searches is one of the new features added to BvD Orbis.
Bureau van Dijk Orbis Build a List

Bureau van Dijk rolled out the latest set of enhancements to its Orbis company research and financial analysis platform.  Orbis was re-platformed last year and given a modern user interface.  New features include a document ordering module, improved peer reporting, and enhanced customization.  The new document ordering module assists with KYC/AML and company research by delivering original images of business documents, such as certificates of incorporation, shareholders’ details, and annual reports.  The new module was built in partnership with aRMadillo (FKA RM Online) and delivers reports “usually within an hour.”  Users can even order reports for companies not found in the Orbis database.

Customization features include calculated variables which can be shared across the account group, chapters, and classifications.

“The new interface arranges company reports into “books” that are further organised into “chapters”, that contain related information,” said CMO Louise Green.  “This feature lets you create your own customised chapters, which could include: your company logo or other images; widgets from the profile page; worksheets with selected financials; and any of your own fields that you have imported into Orbis.”

Custom classifications allow users to map their own industry and geographic codes to ORBIS data.

Bureau van Dijk recently released a 2:33 demo of seven key workflow improvements that were implemented in last year’s release:

  1. Favorite Search Criteria
  2. Instant Currency Switch
  3. Alert Management and Quick Alerting
  4. Quick View of a Company
  5. Random Sorting and Sampling
  6. Pivot Analysis
  7. Corporate Ownership Explorer

The Orbis database, which is available for Orbis financial analysis, MINT sales intelligence, and Catalyst workflow product lines, now spans 220 million companies across 200 countries.

Bureau van Dijk Orbis Company View
The Bureau van Dijk Orbis Company View is customizable.

DueDil: New Chairman, Expanded Coverage

DueDil Group Graph for Spotify
DueDil Group Graph for Spotify

DueDil, which provides financial research and sales intelligence services for the UK and Europe, named Alan Millard as its Chairman.  Millard is a consultant for the Table Group and has worked with CEOs and executives at IBM, JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, SABmiller, and GSK.  Previously, Millard was the COO at Hiscox UK and CEO of its subsidiary Hiscox Underwriting.

“Alan is helping us transition from a founder led team to an executive led organization,” said DueDil founder and CEO Damian Kimmelman.  “He brings with him the eye of the customer which is so critical as we scale. I am honoured to have him on board guiding our global ambitions.”

DueDil recently expanded its database beyond the UK and Ireland to provide company coverage of France, Germany, Benelux, and the Nordics.  However, they are already talking about a true global dataset to rival Dun & Bradstreet and Bureau van Dijk.  By the end of the year, they expect to offer pan-European coverage and begin to extend their reach to additional global markets.  Thus, their database will grow from 11 million companies at the beginning of the year to 40 million companies in March and 100 million by the end of the year.  Their goal is to be the “largest source of private company information in the world,” said COO Justin Fitzpatrick.

“A more open business world is essential to global growth and prosperity. DueDil is already the largest and richest source of private company information in the U.K., and one of the largest in Europe. We are on an incredible journey to cover over 200 million companies globally by the end of 2018. I am excited to be part of a company that genuinely improves the business landscape and encourages growth and trade,” said Millard.

“Our mission at DueDil is to create the largest source of private company information to help businesses to find opportunity and mitigate risk,” stated DueDil CRO Pierre Berlin at DueDil’s recent Spotlight user conference.  “We help businesses in the digital transformation.  Leveraging it by transforming the business relationship with the key stakeholder in the organization.  Our value proposition at DueDil is to make your business more agile [and] resilient, by providing access to the richest information on the company that matters to you.”

According to Fitzpatrick, DueDil will accomplish their mission via superior data, new insight, and automation.

Along with expanded geographic coverage, DueDil is extending its Know Your Customer (KYC) checks to include beneficial ownership, UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) registration data, and adverse media coverage.  According to the FCA, it “regulates and supervises the conduct of more than 50,000 firms in the UK that provide financial products and services to both UK and international customers.”

In March, DueDil also announced an upgraded API that supports a host of functions including opportunity identification, risk mitigation, auto-populating sign up forms, data enrichment, and verifying credentials during customer onboarding.

The API also supports a new partnership with consumer information vendor CallCredit.  The partners “will offer an integrated solution for verifying a business and the people who run it,” said DueDil Product Marketing Manager Sam Hockley.  Initially the consumer information will only be available via the DueDil API.

Coincidentally, Dun & Bradstreet announced a Beneficial Ownership product a few weeks ago.

Crunchbase Series B

Last week was a busy week for VC funding in the SalesTech space.  Yesterday, I covered SparkLane’s funding round and today I am blogging about PE/VC database Crunchbase which announced an $18 million Series B led by Mayfield.  The funding announcement was paired with the launch of a new team-based Crunchbase Enterprise service.  Crunchbase was spun out of AOL in 2015 with $6.5 million in funding from Emergence Capital followed by a smaller $2 million round.  Crunchbase also laid out plans for a Crunchbase Marketplace that would allow the company to become the “Facebook of company information.”

The new funds will be dedicated towards extending its SaaS offerings, expanding its database, and growing its teams with a “significant commitment to diversity.”

“Mayfield is excited to partner with Jager McConnell and the team at Crunchbase to be the place where consumers, professionals, and businesses can easily access the information on companies to sell to, market to, partner with, finance, work for, research, acquire, and do business with. The early success of Crunchbase Pro and its usability have given us a view into the ambitious vision and roadmap of increasing the breadth, depth, and accessibility of the high-quality data platform Crunchbase is creating,” commented Rajeev Batra, Partner at Mayfield. “Crunchbase not only has a globally dominant position and brand, it has the potential to be a true platform company in becoming the actionable master record for company data.”

Crunchbase funding rounds and investors
Crunchbase funding rounds and investors

Crunchbase now offers an API along with three levels of service: free, Pro ($29 / month), and Enterprise ($99 / user / month with a minimum of five users).  Additional services are in the pipeline.

The free service receives 2.3 million unique visitors per month of which 40%  of site traffic is international.  Pro, which was launched last September, is “well past” 5,000 subscribers according to CEO Jager McConnell.  The firm has licensed its API to more than ten partners including Glassdoor and SimilarWeb.

The new Enterprise service combines Pro with API access, list downloads, email addresses, phone support, and a CRM connector.  The AppExchange service supports daily Crunchbase updates and data change alerts.

Crunchbase product pricing and features table
Crunchbase product pricing and features table

Crunchbase now covers a half million companies and 2,700 VC firms.  Other content includes investors, people, events, and products.  Data is maintained by a team of editors with updates provided to Crunchbase by their member community.  The database also benefits from VC firm updates and machine learning tools which search for anomalous information.  Annually, five million updates are made to the database.

Crunchbase has become the go-to destination for accurate and up-to-date company information for businesses all over the world,” said McConnell. “As we grow, hiring a diverse team will bring a variety of valuable perspectives into the business, which reflects the culture of Crunchbase. This will remain a focus of hiring as the company doubles in size in the next year.”

Crunchbase clients include Affinity, Datafox, Datanyze, Deloitte, Engagio, Everstring, Infer, Microsoft, Nestle, Samsung, Slack, Target, Volkswagen, and IBM Watson.  The firm has forty staff of which 43% are women and half are non-white.

McConnell wants Crunchbase to be the Facebook of company information.  “The premise is: it would be impossible for a single company to find all these slivers of company information, and put it into one spot on their own. They can’t be all those core competencies, so the idea is, let’s go and form these partnerships with all these companies that have those core competencies, put it in one place and, if we do a good job here, the user will say, ‘I know where to go, it’s where all this data comes together, that’s at Crunchbase.’”

To accomplish this vision, Crunchbase is readying a Crunchbase Marketplace of fifteen to twenty partners “to build a true company master record.”  Thus, Glassdoor would provide CEO ratings, employee ratings, and available jobs while SimilarWeb would feature website traffic for a specific company or industry.

Users will have the ability to select which content sets display.  The goal is to cover all of the companies on the Internet.

“Over time, pretty much every data provider that has some slice of company information, we’d like our users to have the ability to go and add that data directly into their experience. Sometimes that will be free, like Glassdoor will be a free dataset, but other times it may even cost a little bit of money to go add in technology stack data, or patent data,” said McConnell.  “Sometimes people want to know not just about funding, but about jobs, the CEO or all the companies in their geography that have a certain amount of website traffic.  Or sales reps want to find people who use a competitive product. Right now, they need three partners to get all that data. We want to let you choose it as part of the experience.”

David Sternis of Deloitte said, “The quality and accessibility of Crunchbase data is second to none. We save an immense amount of time by using Crunchbase Enterprise to power our TechHabor solution in order to stay on top of the innovation and startup landscapes. Our teams spend a fraction of the time they used to on research and market analysis and can prioritize focusing on providing strategic recommendations for our clients.”

Note: While Crunchbase and CB Insights both cover the PE/VC space, they are separate, non-affiliated companies.

Sales Navigator: Enhanced Search Tools

LinkedIn Sales Navigator included a set of new screening filters including headcount growth and headcount growth by department. Revenue data is limited to publics.
Sales Navigator added new screening filters including headcount growth by company and department.

LinkedIn announced additional search tools for Sales Navigator. New filters helps sales reps target accounts and leads.  Amongst the new screening options are searching for new execs, searching for specific departments by size, headcount growth at the company or department level, public company revenue, and headquarters postal codes.

One of the new search filters is senior leadership changes at companies which help identify new contacts with a higher likelihood of considering new products and solutions.  “Multithreading is critical to ensuring your deals don’t go dark. Start by identifying companies where senior leaders have changed roles or joined the organization in the past three months,” said LinkedIn Product Manager Alex Lee. “These could be great indicators that it’s time to reach out.”

Revenue screening will be underwhelming as it is limited to public companies listed on global exchanges.  While the data is screenable in multiple currencies, the revenue data is limited to US, British, Indian, and Australian companies; the vast majority of companies would not be screenable via this filter.  Furthermore, because the data is limited to four countries, it is likely to cover fewer than 20,000 of the 50,000 active global publics.  Unless a company is specifically targeting public companies, users should screen based upon LinkedIn employee sizes.  Employee values are based upon the underlying membership data and screenable to the department level.  As such, they provide much better filters for targeting by size, growth rates, and departmental size.

These new options offer a range of new opportunities in account targeting, utilizing LinkedIn’s vast professional data banks to help optimize and improve your outreach efforts. And as data usage and personalization becomes increasingly commonplace in marketing circles, the need to customize and focus your outreach will becoming ever more important – LinkedIn’s well-placed to capitalize on this trend and help give forward-thinking businesses an advantage.

  • Andrew Hutchinson, SocialMediaToday

LinkedIn has published the full list of company and people search filters.  Sales Navigator filters operate against LinkedIn’s universe of eleven million companies and nearly half billion members.